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Does the LEO Need to Show Up for the Traffic Court Case?

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Typically, when the law enforcement officer (LEO) doesn't show up for a traffic court case, the judge will dismiss the case if the defendant or their lawyer asks for a dismissal. The Constitution protects the defendant's right to confront or question an accuser. If the LEO fails to show up for court, it should be dismissed due to a lack of evidence, or in legal jargon, a "lack of prosecution."  

What Happens Chronologically in Your Traffic Court Case?

When you get a ticket, typically it will be four to six weeks before your court date. The court will usually send a Traffic Court reminder, but don’t rely on that. If it doesn’t come and you fail to show for court, you will still get another citation for failure to appear  (FTA). 

Once you know the date for your traffic court case, call a local traffic attorney and get their advice about challenging the ticket or paying the fine. You might think that, of course, a lawyer is going to say you should fight it, so they can get paid to assist. For good traffic attorneys, they are not going to take your case if they don't believe they can win or that it will benefit you. They’re usually just too busy to take a case that won’t benefit the client. That would damage their credibility, and they could have to answer to the CA Bar Association for unethical behavior.

On the day of arraignment, if you decide to represent yourself, you must wait until your case is called. Traffic court could be an all-day event, though your case could be resolved in just a few minutes. 

There are likely hundreds scheduled for that day, and there’s no way of knowing if your case will come up in the morning or afternoon. You could get there ten minutes after court starts and already be an FTA, or you could wait until 4:30 pm for your name to be called. When your name is called, you must be ready to dispute your ticket if the LEO is in attendance or plead not guilty and request more time to prepare your case. Which means you will need to come back another day. If you're from another part of California or another state that could get expensive. However, if the LEO is not in attendance and it is the day set for trial, you should ask the judge for a dismissal of charges.

You can find more information about preparing for an appearance for your traffic court case.

What Happens with an FTA?  

Regardless of the reason for your first ticket, an FTA is a misdemeanor crime. An FTA could result in up to six months in jail and a $1,000. What's more, the judge could find you guilty in absentia, and a notice will get sent to a collection agency under the county rules. That means you need a reliable traffic attorney to assist you in resolving the FTA before you can move forward with the original ticket. However, the traffic attorney can handle both citations.  

Reasonable reasons for an FTA:

  • Military orders
  • Incarceration
  • Deportation
  • Hospitalization

Although those are usually the only excuses for not attending your traffic court, consult an attorney.

To preclude an FTA and an additional $300 civil penalty, check the Kern County Superior Court Traffic Division website for your traffic court case information. However, give yourself a chance, and give it to an experienced and knowledgeable local attorney. Bigger & Harman are right there at 1701 Westwind Dr #203, in Bakersfield, CA. 

Consult a Bakersfield Traffic Attorney in Kern County for Your Traffic Court Case  

Call Bigger & Harman, APC, (661) 349-9300, about your traffic court case, traffic violator’s school, or ticket. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We specialize in traffic law. Give us a call to discuss your ticket.

Saddiq J. from Fremont, CA, commented on Yelp, “Drove myself into a ticket in Bakersfield, and began calling up lawyers only a few days before court date. These guys were quick to help me out, and demonstrated willingness to help and excellent customer service. Both Mark and Paul were phenomenal in their work. Sheriff didn't show up, so Mark was quick in requesting the judge to call it a no-show and dismiss the ticket. I highly appreciate you, Mark, for showing up to court and helping dismiss the ticket. And thank you, Paul, for the highly needed discount a broke college student could use!”      

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.  

Plus, you can get a lot more information about the Bigger & Harman firm from their Nolo page.

References:

The Kern County Superior Court Traffic Division webpage

The Nolo articleWhat Happens in Traffic Court: Trial by Judge

The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf