Trial By Declaration Procedures
California Vehicle Code §40902 allows a person charged with a nonalcohol-related infraction, to “appear” in front of a judge by written instrument. Basically, you tell your side of the story and the cop tells his. Both documents go in front of a judge and the judge decides whether you are guilty or not.
Trial By Declaration Laws
The relevant code sections are:
- CVC 40519(b): this is the section that governs the written “Not Guilty” plea
- CVC 40902: this section governs the trial by written declaration
- CVC 40902(d): if you are unhappy with the trial by written declaration, you can request a new live trial (request for de novo trial) within 20 days of being mailed your guilty verdict
- At least 20 days before your scheduled appearance date, you need to submit a not guilty plea, a trial by written declaration and a check for the bail amount. We recommend that you submit these documents by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- If you are found guilty and want to proceed with a live trial, you must demand a trial de novo within 20 days of receiving your guilty judgment.
Advantages of Trial By Declaration
- You don’t have to appear in court.
- An unfavorable verdict (ie found guilty) allows the defendant to request a second trial (ie live trial).
Disadvantages of Trial By Declaration
- Process is lengthy.
- You are required to post the bail amount (fine amount) at the time of filing the trial by written declaration.
- Cops routinely file their declaration by checking a few boxes and signing their name.