California’s Rule of Court 4.105 prohibits courts from requiring infraction defendants to deposit bail in order to appear at either arraignment or trial unless a specified statutory exception applies. Under Rule 4.105, a traffic court in California may only require infraction defendants to deposit bail prior to a first appearance when:
- The defendant elects a statutory procedure (such as trial by written declaration) that requires the deposit of bail;
- The defendant at arraignment refuses to sign a written promise to appear for future court proceedings; or
- The court determines that the particular defendant is unlikely to appear as ordered without a deposit of bail and states its reasons for that finding on the record.
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Fairness in California Traffic Ticket Cases
To promote procedural fairness for infraction cases, the committees propose the amendment of Rule 4.105(d) to facilitate the notice provisions. The amended rule would require that the local website of trial courts must include a link to the statewide traffic self-help information posted on the California judicial branch website at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-traffic.htm.
In addition to information on appearance at court for arraignment and trial, the self-help information includes guidance on other subjects such as:
- traffic violator school;
- payment plans for traffic infractions;
- community service;
- correctable violations;
- trial by written declaration in a traffic court case;
- consequences for failure to appear in traffic court; or
- consequences for failure to pay in traffic court.
California Rule of Court 4.105 does not apply to appeals or post-conviction matters or cases in which the defendant seeks an appearance in court after a failure to pay or a failure to appear in traffic court.
Statutory Exceptions to Traffic Court Bail Rule 4.105
Several statutory provisions in the California Vehicle Code allow a court in an infraction case to require a defendant who has received a written notice to appear to elect to deposit bail in lieu of appearing in court or in advance of the notice to appear date.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40510 authorizes a defendant to deposit bail before the notice to appear date.
CVC Section 40519(a) authorizes a defendant who has received a written notice to appear to declare the intention to plead not guilty and deposit bail before the notice to appear date for purposes of electing to schedule an arraignment and trial on the same date or on separate dates.
CVC Section 40519(b) authorizes a defendant who has received a written notice to appear to deposit bail and plead not guilty in writing in lieu of appearing in person.
CVC Section 40902 authorizes trial by written declaration.
California Traffic Court Rule 4.105 – Visit the website the California Judicial Branch to learn more about rules for traffic court, including the recently amended Rule 4.105 for appearance without the deposit of bail in infraction cases after receiving a written notice to appear. The rules were last amended on January 1, 2017. When determining the amount of bail when the defendant does not sign a written promise to appear or when the court determines that the defendant is unlikely to appear as ordered without a deposit of bail, the court must consider the totality of the circumstances including whether the defendant has previously failed to pay or appear willfully after receiving adequate notice.
Read the ACLU Comments to Rule 4.105 – On September 4, 2015, the attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, wrote a comment regarding the proposed amendment to Rule 4.105 that urged the judicial council to adopt the amendment. The comment noted that withholding the right to contest a traffic citation until the fines, penalty assessments, and other surcharges for the citation are paid in full is a clear violation of due process, equal protection, and other constitutional rights and guarantees. Prior to the amendment, traffic court judges were denying people a trial because of an inability to post “bail.”
2017 Edition of the California Penal Code Handbook – Rule 4.105 – Visit Google Books to find the 2017 Edition of the California Penal Code Handbook where you can access the complete statutory language of the recently amended Rule 4.105.