Failure to Appear on a Citation

When you sign a traffic ticket you are promising to appear on or before the date listed on the citation. The first court date listed on the citation is called the “arraignment” in traffic court. The court wouldn’t mind at all if everyone just paid the ticket and admitted guilt.

For this reason, the judges in traffic court make it difficult and inconvenient to fight the ticket. An attorney who regularly appears in traffic court can navigate the system better. The court also has very effective ways of making sure that anyone who just ignores the citation pays a price.

If you break that promise to appear on the date listed on the traffic ticket issued in San Francisco, CA, then any of several different consequences may occur:

  • Your case can be sent to a Collection Agency
  • The court can garnish or seize your personal property such as bank accounts and wages
  • The court can place a lien on your real property (including your home)
  • The court can issue a warrant for your arrest for a separate criminal offense of “Failure to Appear” under the California Vehicle Code, Section 40508(a), a misdemeanor (often called “violation of promise to appear”).
  • The court can suspend your driver’s license

This article explains a violation of the promise to appear on a civil traffic infraction. If you failed to appear in a criminal case with underlying felony or misdemeanor charges which are criminal offenses, then you can be charged with a separate crime for failing to appear in criminal court (sometimes called “bail jumping” or “jumping bail”).

Attorney for Failure to Appear in San Francisco, CA

If you are issued a citation by a law enforcement officer, then you must take action before your due date to avoid these adverse consequences. If you have already failed to appear on a citation, then contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney in San Francisco, CA, at Ticket Crushers.

If you failed to appear on a traffic citation or were charged with failing to appear in court in violation of the California Vehicle Code, Section 40508(a) (sometimes called “violation of a promise to appear”), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers.


Failure to Appear on a Citation under Vehicle Code Section 40508(a)

If you fail to appear in court after receiving a citation, then you can be charged with a crime under Vehicle Code Section 40508(a). The penalties for failing to appear are separate from any penalties that can be imposed for the underlying offense. In fact, it does not necessarily matter whether you are found guilty of the violation of the Vehicle Code alleged in the original citation. The crime of failing to appear can be charged as a separate and independent offense.

The elements of Failure to Appear in court in violation of Vehicle Code, § 40508(a) require proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following:

  • The defendant received a citation
  • In connection with that citation, the defendant either signed a written promise to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail, or received a lawfully granted continuance of the promise to appear, and
  • The defendant willfully failed to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail

California law provides that someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that the defendant intended to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. The standard jury instructions for the crime of failure to appear can be found at CALCRIM 2240, Judicial Council Of California Criminal Jury Instruction.


The Civil Assessment for Failure to Appear on a Citation

If you fail to appear in traffic court on a traffic infraction in San Francisco, CA, then an additional $300 assessment might be imposed. After the failure to appear in court, you will receive a Notice of Civil Assessment for an additional $300. The Notice of Civil Assessment will be sent to the address listed on the citation.

The civil assessment of $300 will be added to any traffic or infraction fine if you fail to do any one of the following:

  • Hire an attorney to represent you
  • Post bail
  • Appear for your scheduled court date
  • Pay any fine ordered by the Court

Any delinquent citation in San Francisco, CA, will be referred to a collection agency known as “Alliance One” for collection. The Traffic Court in San Francisco, CA, has entered into an agreement with a collection agency, known as “Alliance One.” This collection agency will collect unpaid fines and civil assessments after a traffic citation is issued by the court. The Court and this collection agency are known as “Alliance One.” This agency will use a number of different methods to collect unpaid fees and the civil assessment including:

  • Sending notice to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your driver’s license
  • A garnishment or attachment of your wages, and
  • Other various collection methods

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the consequences for the failure to pay a fine or comply with a court order?

If you do not pay a fine or comply with an order of the court such as performing community service before the deadline set by the court, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor.

By hiring a traffic ticket attorney in San Francisco to handle your citation, you can avoid additional fees and legal action, which may include a warrant for your arrest. Your attorney will make sure to take action before your fine or court order is past due. If the case is not dismissed by the judge, your attorney can help you obtain an extension to pay your fine or comply with a court order.

What is Civil Assessment?

If you fail to appear in court after signing the citation and promising to appear in court, or if you do not pay your fine on time, or if you do not obey an order of the court by the deadline set, the court may then impose an extra fee and the court can send the case to a collection agency.

In some cases, such as hospitalization, active military service or incarceration (being in jail), your attorney can ask the court not to add the additional fee. Your attorney can reserve a date to see the judge as quickly as possible.

The court suspended my driver’s license for failure to appear or failure to comply. How do I get the hold cleared?

An attorney can help you remove a suspension on your driver’s license or vehicle registration.

The court issued a warrant for my arrest. How do I get the warrant lifted so that I am not arrested?

Your attorney can file a motion to quash or set aside a warrant for your arrest after a failure to appear in court on a citation or infraction. If you are worried that a warrant has already been issued, you can search for the warrant online.


Additional Resources

San Francisco’s Traffic Division on the Failure to Appear on a Citation — Visit the website of the Superior Court of California to find out more about the consequences of failing to appear on a citation in the traffic division. Find out more about the courtesy notice, the civil assessment, and arraignments in night court in San Francisco, CA.

Superior Court of San Francisco
Traffic Division
Hall Of Justice
850 Bryant Street, Room 145
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 551-8550

Information on Moving Violations in San Francisco -— Visit the San Francisco Police Department website to find out more about parking citations and information about moving violations. If you were cited for a moving violation by the San Francisco Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, or another local law enforcement agency within the County of San Francisco, then find information on resolving your case in the Traffic Division of the Superior Court of San Francisco. Also, find information on parking violations in the City and County of San Francisco with a link to the website for the SF MTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency).


Finding an Attorney for Failure to Appear

If you are charged with Failing to Appear under California Vehicle Code, Section 40508(a), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. We also represent clients with traffic tickets in failure to pay status.

The attorneys at Ticket Crushers represent clients in the County of San Francisco for civil traffic infractions, including civil traffic infractions that are in failure to appear status or failure to comply status. Our offices are located on Geary Boulevard near Park Presidio in San Francisco, CA. Our traffic ticket lawyers in San Francisco represent clients throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including Alameda County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Contra Costa County, CA.

By focusing on traffic citations, we can effectively navigate traffic court. By hiring us, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that an experienced traffic ticket attorney will appear in court on your behalf.

Call Ticket Crushers at 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your failure to appear issue today.