Finding a resolution to your Failure to Appear (FTA) in court for a traffic ticket could be as simple as calling Bigger & Harman, Central Valley, CA traffic ticket attorneys. However, if you decide to resolve this on your own, you should be warned that an FTA in CA is a peculiar law that can be complicated and expensive to resolve without legal representation. Whatever traffic infraction or crime you were originally charged with and failed to resolve will determine how difficult and expensive the FTA will be to resolve.
If you have justification for your FTA, such as you were hospitalized, on active military duty in another location, or deported you may be able to clear that up with the court clerk and schedule another date, but don’t even try, “Oh, I forgot!” and, it would be wise to consult an attorney before going down to the courthouse. Bigger & Harman will provide a FREE, no obligation phone consultation.
When a law enforcement officer issues you a traffic ticket, you must sign and date the ticket. Signing the ticket is your contract with the State of California that you will resolve the traffic ticket before the arraignment date or appear in court on that date, or hire an attorney to appear for you. It is NOT an admission of guilt, that is just an “old wives’ tale”. However, you should keep the ticket handy because there is lots of information on that ticket and even though CA law requires the court to send you a reminder as of 1 May 2017, not getting one will not excuse you from appearing.
Since there are three levels of traffic crimes, there are three levels of severity for an FTA. We will discuss each level a little more in-depth to clarify it a little, but if you have any questions, call Bigger & Harman.
A Traffic Ticket Infraction
Actually, there are two degrees of severity for infractions as well, minor and major, which will influence the penalty but not affect how the FTA is treated.
The least severe of any CA Vehicle Code violation, is the minor infraction. These are usually for speeding less than 100 mph, a right lane violation, driving in a bicycle lane, etc. These and many others are minor infractions (click below for a complete list). However, if the “I” is circled on your citation it is an infraction and if the “M” is circled it is a misdemeanor. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will assess one Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) point on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR) if you are convicted for a minor infraction.
The major infraction is more severe than a minor infraction, are assessed two NOTS points, fines are usually higher, and are normally issued for speeding over 100 mph or an “Exhibition of Speed,” which could be either an infraction or a misdemeanor, again check your ticket.
To access a full list of CVC violations and the points assessed for each, click DMV.CA.GOV.
When you do not appear or resolve an infraction, you cannot be jailed because of it or if you had a payment plan agreement with the court and you did not complete your plan. However, the court will charge you with another offense with another fine for the FTA, notify DMV, and their credit agency. DMV will likely suspend your license and the credit agency will begin collection procedures, which will damage your credit.
Misdemeanor Traffic Ticket
A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction and a conviction will stay on your MVR for seven to ten years and on your criminal record for life, unless you go through the expense of getting it expunged, it will still be there and could affect future violations, but will not be “public information”. If you were ticketed for a misdemeanor level crime, such as driving on a suspended or revoked license, reckless driving, hit and run with property damage only, etc., your FTA will likely be treated as a misdemeanor as well, with higher fines and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. When apprehended, you will be taken straight to jail and will not be released until your lawyer can secure a release or a judge sets bail.
Felony Traffic Ticket
A felony is more about the same as a misdemeanor or more serious and is usually charged for traffic violations or crimes that involve injury or death, such as a hit and run with injuries, vehicular manslaughter or homicide, reckless driving or DUI with bodily injuries, etc. If you are accused of one of these, do not add an FTA to your troubles, as it will likely be a felony charge as well, hire an attorney immediately.
Traffic Defense Attorneys, Bigger & Harman, APC
It is your responsibility to appear in court if you have been accused of committing a traffic violation. You have the option of hiring a traffic ticket defender to appear on your behalf, with or without your presence. When you do not, a bench warrant may be issued, you may be arrested at any time, your name and good credit damaged, and other severe consequences. When you get information of a bench warrant due to your FTA, call Bigger & Harman to help you through the complicated court procedures.
Many other attorneys handle a variety of legal issues, we exclusively handle traffic tickets in traffic court. At Bigger & Harman, we work hard for our clients in courtrooms in several counties in the Central Valley, such as Kings, Kern, Tulare, and Inyo to name just a few. We are familiar with the court clerks and judges, but more importantly, we are familiar with traffic court procedures. Call us today, 661-349-9300. Or, send us an email: email@example.com. En español, llame al 661-349-9755