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10 Do’s and Dont’s With a Trial By Declaration

Filing a trial by declaration may be a good option. In California, filing a TBD allows you two shots at winning your ticket, first by paper, and second by live trial.

If you are going to file a TBD, make sure it’s complete and complies with the following 10 DO’S AND DONT’S WITH A TRIAL BY DECLARATION:

  1. DO Post Bail – CVC 40902(b) requires that if you want to contest your case by mail, you must deposit bail.
  2. DO Send It On Time – Judges are notoriously finicky. You don’t want to be found guilty simply because the judge was a stickler for time.
  3. DON’T Admit Guilt – As much as you want to say you’re guilty but that you are a good person with a good explanation don’t ever admit that you committed a violation (even 67 in a 65 zone is still a violation). The problem is as interesting as you think your story is, judges just don’t give a hoot about you or your problem. Judges know the law and simply determine the facts from the submitted declarations and determines whether the established facts were in violation of the law. When you go claiming that you did speed or did cross the line abruptly the judge stamps it with a guilty all because you established the fact and the proof of the violation.
  4. DO Ask For Traffic School – Traffic School is great, but if you don’t ask for it the judge is not going to assume that you want it. Make sure it’s in there. I always start mine out with “In the alternative, should the court find me guilty, I request that traffic school be granted for the following reasons…”
  5. DO Handcraft an Argument
  6. DO Demand that the Officer Meets the Burden of Proof
  7. DON’T Give Excuses
  8. DO Back Assertions Up With Documents
  9. DO Keep it Short
  10. DO Keep Your Address Current with the DMV
  11. DON’T Use an Legal Document Assistant Service to prepare your Written Trial By Declaration

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Scott Hullinger, Esq.

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