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

Basic Timeline

  • 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.

Trial by Written Declaration

Fight your case from the comfort of your own home.

Attorney Advantage

Hiring an attorney to defend your traffic ticket may mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. With high fines, DMV points and your license at stake, you need an experienced traffic law firm to handle it. Our traffic attorneys are the best in the business because:


We know the law and procedure that govern traffic law and traffic courts. We use the knowledge we've gained to get an advantage in court. Knowing the right legal maneuvers may mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal.

We go to court for you

Under Penal Code 977 we can make all your court appearances without you having to be present. In most cases, you will never have to go to court. We appear on your behalf and represent you to the fullest extent of the law.

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