Trial by declaration
You can challenge most traffic tickets without going to court if before your due date you both:
- Turn in a court form explaining what happened
- Pay any required fines (called bail)
The court will ask for a statement from the law enforcement officer who wrote the ticket. The judge will review your and the officer's statements and then make a decision.
If the judge finds you not guilty or lowers the fine, the court will refund any money.
Get instructions from your Notice or the court
The court handling your ticket usually has specific instructions on how to ask for a trial by declaration. For example, if you can submit your paperwork online or mail in the form, and whether you need to pay anything to ask for the trial.
You can usually find out more of this information on the Notice you got from the court. It should have
- Your due date
- How much you owe (called bail)
- Options on how to handle your ticket
Follow those instructions. You can also find out more on the court's website.
Fill out court form and attach evidence
Request for Trial by Written Declaration (form TR-205)
If you need more space for your written statement, you can use Attached Declaration (form MC-031).
Evidence (for example photographs, witness statements)
Attach any evidence to Form TR-205. If you attach evidence like photographs or diagrams, explain in your written statement what they are. If you have a written statement from a witness, they can use Attached Declaration (form MC-031). If your witness does not use the Declaration form, their statement must be signed and have these words at the end: "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that this statement is true and correct."
Pay your fine (bail)
You usually need to also pay your fine (called bail) when you ask for a trial by declaration. The court keeps this money while the judge makes a decision. If the judge finds you not guilty or lowers the amount owed, the court will refund the money.
Send the form, evidence, and payment to the court
Send the form, evidence, and money to the court by the due date. This is the date on the Notice or ticket.
You can usually mail this in. In some courts, you may be able to submit this online.
Court gets statement from officer
The clerk will send a notice to the officer who gave you the ticket to let them know they can also send in a statement by a due date.
Get the decision
The court will review the statements and evidence and make a decision. If you are not guilty or the amount owed was lowered, the court will refund any money.