Should I Do Trial By Written Declaration For My Ticket?

A trial by written declaration is a procedure where, instead of appearing in court for a trial on your citation, you mail or bring in a written statement explaining the facts of your case and why the court should rule in your favor.

If you are charged with an infraction violation and you want to dispute your ticket, you can challenge your citation in writing without having to appear in person at court. The court will decide your case without you having to go to court.

In a trial by written declaration, you have until the due date on your citation to submit your written statement and any evidence supporting your case. The officer who issued the citation will submit their own statement and any evidence they have against you.

A declaration is a written statement submitted to a court in which the writer swears 'under penalty of perjury' that the contents are true. That is, the writer acknowledges that if he is lying, he may be prosecuted for perjury.

Trial by Written Declaration (TBWD) is a legal process available in some states within the United States, such as California. It allows individuals who have received certain types of traffic citations to contest the ticket without having to appear in court. TBWD provides an alternative method to contest traffic violations through written statements rather than an in-person court appearance.

How do I write a trial by written declaration? Here's how the process generally works:

  1. Eligibility: Not all traffic violations are eligible for Trial by Written Declaration. Generally, only minor traffic infractions, such as speeding tickets or red light violations, qualify for this process. More serious offenses like DUI or hit-and-run cases typically require a court appearance.
  2. Requesting TBWD: If your ticket is eligible, you can request a Trial by Written Declaration from the court. You usually need to submit a written request within a specified timeframe, typically within 30 days of receiving the citation. The court will provide you with the necessary forms and instructions.
  3. Written Statement: Once your request is approved, you'll need to prepare a written statement explaining your defense or reasons for contesting the ticket. You can include any evidence or supporting documents that can help your case, such as photographs, witness statements, or relevant laws/statutes.
  4. Submission: You must submit your written statement, along with any supporting documents, to the court within the designated time frame. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the court regarding the submission process, such as the method of delivery and any required fees.
  5. Officer's Statement: Simultaneously, the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket will also submit a written statement presenting their side of the case. This statement may include the officer's version of events, any evidence they have, and their justification for issuing the citation.
  6. Decision: Once both parties' written statements are submitted, a judge or traffic commissioner will review the case. They will consider the arguments and evidence presented by both sides. Based on this review, they will render a decision either finding you guilty or dismissing the ticket.
  7. Notification: The court will notify you of the decision by mail. If you are found not guilty, the citation will be dismissed, and you won't have to pay any fines. If you are found guilty, you may have to pay the fine specified on the citation, potentially face increased insurance rates, or consider other options like traffic school.

It's important to note that the specifics of Trial by Written Declaration can vary depending on the jurisdiction. It's advisable to consult the court or seek legal advice to understand the process and requirements specific to your case and location.

Is trial by written declaration worth it?

Determining whether Trial by Written Declaration (TBWD) is worth it depends on several factors, including your individual circumstances, the specific traffic violation, and your chances of success. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

Convenience: TBWD can be a more convenient option compared to appearing in court. It allows you to contest the ticket without having to take time off work or other obligations to attend a court hearing. If convenience is a priority for you, TBWD may be worth considering.

Cost: TBWD may save you money if you are successful in contesting the ticket. If you are found not guilty, you won't have to pay the fine associated with the citation. However, keep in mind that there may be fees associated with the TBWD process itself, such as filing fees or administrative costs. Evaluate these costs against the potential savings.

Chances of Success: Assessing your chances of success is crucial. Consider the strength of your defense, any evidence or supporting documents you have, and the specific circumstances of the traffic violation. Research similar cases and outcomes to gauge the likelihood of a favorable decision. If you have a strong case, TBWD could be a worthwhile option.

Time and Effort: TBWD requires you to prepare a written statement and gather any supporting evidence. Consider the time and effort required to build your case and weigh it against the potential benefits. If you have a busy schedule or lack the necessary resources, TBWD may still be worth it if the potential outcome justifies the effort.

Legal Assistance: While legal representation is not required for TBWD, consulting with a traffic attorney can provide valuable guidance. They can help you assess the strength of your case, review your written statement, and provide advice on presenting a persuasive defense. If you're unsure about handling the process on your own, the assistance of an attorney may increase your chances of success.

Ultimately, the decision of whether TBWD is worth it depends on your specific circumstances and the factors mentioned above. It may be helpful to weigh the potential benefits against the associated costs and effort involved. Consulting with a legal professional familiar with the jurisdiction and the TBWD process can provide further clarity and help you make an informed decision.


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