Notice to Appear Explained
By San Diego Defense Attorneys
Also known as a traffic ticket, citation or “cite-and-release”. This Accusatory Pleading is becoming used more often for convenience of both the defendant and the government. The Notice to Appear is only used when the officer believes that a Misdemeanor Offense or Infraction Offense has occurred in his/her presence.
What Does It Mean?
If you were issued a ticket, the contents are significant. Included in it are date the alleged crime occurred, what the crime was, who witnessed it (typically only a police officer) and when your court date for your first appearance is scheduled.
Your signature is a legal obligation between the officer, the court and you. When you sign it, you are stating that in lieu of the officer taking you in front of a judge (and arresting you) that by a certain date you will “respond” to the claim. If you do not “respond” the government will issue a warrant for your arrest and add a fine of $300. In traffic citations, the government also has the authority to suspend your driving privilege.
When is a Citation Issued?
Citations are issued when a police officer claims that you committed a misdemeanor or infraction and the public is no longer at risk. Citations do not issue when a felony is alleged to have occurred nor do the police issue one when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol because public policy dictates that these individuals be arrested so that no one is harmed.
How Do You Respond?
Remember that these tickets only issue when law enforcement claims an infraction or misdemeanor occurred. In infraction cases, you have the option to just pay the fine amount. In misdemeanor cases, you (or an attorney on your behalf) must appear in court and resolve the case with the prosecutor and judge.
By paying the fine in infraction cases, you are accepting guilt and acknowledging that you understand the other penalties.
What If You Fail to Respond?
If you do not respond judges must issue an Arrest Warrant pursuant to Penal Code § 853.8 within 20 days of your original court date (or lawfully continued court date). Additionally, the court adds a $300 Civil Assessment for your Failure to Appear.
Calling the court Will Not Work. You (or your attorney) must go to court.
What Can an Attorney Do?
The notice to appear is a formal document that means the defendant must answer to charges in court. Our attorneys can represent you in court, help you negotiate to reduced penalties or get it dismissed.
Most of the time our attorneys can appear for you without your presence in court. Our Misdemeanor Pre-Trial Services cover making your court appearances, negotiating with the prosecution and drafting & litigating motions.
If the charges are not dropped, and our attorneys feel that you have a good case to present to a judge or jury, we will recommend our Misdemeanor Trial Services.
Learn More …
If you or a loved one received a Notice to Appear, give our office a call for a Free & Confidential consultation by calling 619-649-2424.