Have you received a traffic ticket in California, and are exploring all possible options to dismiss your citation? Chances are, you’ve stumbled across the term “trial de novo.” Let’s go over what this legal term really means, while examining the benefits of requesting a new trial.

Breaking down a “trial de novo”

California Vehicle Code section 40902d states, “If the defendant is dissatisfied with a decision of the court in a proceeding pursuant to this section, the defendant shall be granted a trial de novo.” A trial de novo can be requested if an individual is unhappy with their Trial by Written Declaration results, and desires an in-person trial to be held to revisit the case. Take a look at the back of your citation. There is a Trial by Written Declaration option. This is the most effective method to beat a California traffic ticket because you don’t have to appear in court, the courts are already overloaded, and the officer has to respond in writing—they aren’t typically fond of writing. Arguably most importantly, is the fact that you have the right to a trial de novo if the Trial by Written Declaration results are unfavorable.

In this new trial, you have all of the same rights as in a normal trial. This includes the right to confront and cross-examine the citing officer and the right to produce witnesses and evidence on your behalf. Keep in mind that requesting a trail de novo is not possible if you chose to proceed directly to a court trial—they are only a legal right of those who submitted a Trial by Written Declaration.

Advantages of requesting a trial de novo

What’s the great thing about a trial de novo? Essentially, you have the legal right to a new trial, merely because you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decision regarding your case. The police officer that cited you is also required to show up to the new trial. If the officer fails to make an appearance, the infraction will most likely be dropped. Officers do not show up in court as often as one might think. This proves why you should always request a trial de novo if your Trial by Written Declaration fails to reduce your bail amount by any margin.

Trial de novo tips

To request a trial de novo, fill out the form TR-220 and mail it. Send your motion for trial de novo via certified mail with a request for a return receipt. This makes it so the court cannot deny the reception of your trial de novo request. A “failure to appear” offense can result in license suspension and jail time in some cases. The point is, use certified mail when dealing with the court. Fill out and print the request form here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/tr220.pdf Most traffic courts in California enforce a 20 day time limit from the mailing date of their initial Trial by Written Declaration decision, to deliver your trail de novo request.

There is no guarantee that your citation outcome will be improved by a trial de novo. In fact, you could request a new trial after a Trial by Written Declaration reduces your bail from $300 to $200, and then have the full $300 enforced after a formal court hearing. Requesting a trial de novo effectively voids any decision reached from a Trial by Written Declaration.

First things first: request a Trial by Written Declaration

California traffic tickets are immensely expensive, relative to the rest of the United States. However, it is possible to dismiss your ticket fully, and avoid the financial burdens that come with it. TicketBust helps to relinquish your ticket with no court involvement, no paperwork, and minimal waiting. The Trial by Written Declaration is your best friend. If this fails, move on to your second-best friend—the trial de novo. If you have any questions regarding the trial de novo process or fighting a traffic ticket, do not hesitate to contact us.

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