Trial by Declaration

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Trial by Declaration

This is a popular option which seems to entice the ticketed individuals looking for a simple way out. Magic bullet it’s not but it does offer a double shot at the court system, it has its pros and cons and it’s always something that can be done without the services of an attorney (or the expense). Simply put, a Trial by Declaration is a form that you can easily obtain on line, download it, fill it out and send it to the court. Of course, I’m oversimplifying but in a nutshell once you request a TBD you can basically tell your side of the story and include pictures or diagrams if necessary. Unfortunately you also have to send in the amount of your bail (cost of the ticket) which theoretically will be refunded to you if you win. The officer involved in giving you the ticket is required to send in his report to the court as well. If he fails to do so, the case is automatically dismissed. If you happen to lose your TBD which happens more often than not, you can then request a new trial, in person. This is commonly called a “Trial de Novo” and hence the second chance to fight the same battle again. Same principle applies, if the officer does not show up in court, your case will be dismissed but if he does and you lose again you can still request traffic school if you are eligible. Yes, I know sometimes judges will deny traffic school if you plead not guilty and then lose but that is not what the law says… of course the judge may disagree with that premise. There are some traffic attorneys that specialize in TBD and will charge anywhere from $100 to $600 or more to fill out this form for you and yes, some people are not comfortable filling out these type of “official” forms. In that case you’re better off hiring an attorney that will go to court for you and litigate the case with a better chance of winning. It’s nice to know you have a choice.

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