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This page tells you about the two kinds of trials:

  1. In-person trials (at the courthouse)
  2. Trial by declaration
  1. In-person trials

    How do I schedule a trial?

    If you believe you are not guilty, you can schedule (or “set”) an in-person trial.

    You can ask for a trial by following the directions on your courtesy notice, or by going to the courthouse listed on your citation.

    You must pay the full bail amount if you request for a trial by mail. The Court will hold your money in trust to make sure you come to Court on the date of your trial.

    If you don’t want to pay full bail, you can come to the courthouse and make a court date for arraignment, and then you can ask for a date for trial at that time. You will have to come back to Court on another day for your trial.

    Referral to Traffic School after trial is at the discretion of the Judicial Officer.

    How can I make a witness come to my trial?

    You can subpoena (make) someone come to Court and testify. If you also want that person to bring documents or some kind of physical evidence, use a Subpoena Duces Tecum.

    You can obtain blank subpoenas at the Clerk’s Office. You will need three copies of the completed subpoena. The witness must be personally served (give) by someone who is 18 years of age or older and is not involved in the case (CCP 1987(a) ).

    You do not have to subpoena the officer who gave you the citation. The Court asks the officer to come to court for your trial.

    How can I present evidence at my trial?

    If you elect to appear in person for your trial, you may bring your evidence to the Court to present it.

    If you elect to appear remotely, you may email your evidence to the Court in advance of your trial by using the following email address: . When using this email address, please provide your name, case number and the date of your trial in the subject line of your email.

  2. Traffic Trials by Declaration (in writing)

    What is a Trial by Declaration?

    In most cases, people who are charged with an infraction of the Vehicle Code or a local ordinance can ask for a Trial by declaration. This means that instead of going to Court to fight your case, you and the officer give the judge a statement and any evidence in writing.

    Evidence can include:

    • A notice to appear issued under Vehicle Code Section 40500 
    • A business record or receipt
    • A sworn declaration of the arresting officer
    • A written statement or letter signed by the defendant
    Can anyone have a Trial by Declaration?

    No. You can have the Trial by Declaration (trial by writing) process if:
    (1) you were given a ticket for infraction violations only;
    (2) the due date to take care of your ticket has not passed; and
    (3) your courtesy notice does not state that you are required to appear in Court.
    For more information on Trial by Declaration, see the Trial by Written Declaration Instructions to Defendant  document at the state court site. The Request for Trial by Written Declaration form  can also be downloaded from that site.

    If you qualify, you can ask for your Trial by Declaration in person at the Clerk’s Office, or by mail at the courthouse listed on your citation.

    If you mail your request, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The Court will mail you instructions and Trial by Declaration forms. Fill out the forms and take them to the Clerk by the deadline indicated on your forms. Also include a check for the bail amount.

    If you are not sure of the bail amount, look on your courtesy notice.

    If you download your Trial by Declaration forms from this website, fill them out and file them along with the bail amount by the due date on your courtesy notice.

    The Court will hold your money in trust. If you are found guilty, it will be used to pay any fines ordered.

    If you are found not guilty, the Court will refund the bail money to the person who paid it.

    After we get all your forms and bail money, the clerk will mail Declaration forms to the arresting officer. The officer must fill them out and return them before the date of the hearing. Then, the Commissioner will review the file and make a decision on your case.

    The Commissioner will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. Then, the file goes back to the Clerk who will notify you and the officer.

    If the verdict is guilty, the Court will say what the penalty will be and orders it to be paid from your bail if you are the Depositor. If the fine is more than the bail you paid, the Court will give you a deadline to pay the rest of the fine. If the fine is less that the bail you paid, the balance will be refunded to the person who deposited the bail.

    You can also ask for a trial de novo. This means you are asking for a new trial, and you and the other parties will personally come to Court for that trial. You have 20 days after the verdict to ask for a Trial de Novo (court trial).

    If you are found not guilty or the case is dismissed, the Court will return the bail to the person who deposited the bail.
© 2023 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara