If you do not go to court on your court date (or pay the fine by the due date, if an appearance is not required), this is called a “failure to appear” (FTA). If you violate your written promise to appear at court, that you signed when you got your ticket, you can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. Note: if you contacted the court prior to your “Notice to Appear” date to address your ticket and took action on it (e.g., pled guilty and paid, requested arraignment date, requested trial without arraignment, or posted bail and requested a trial by declaration), you will not need to appear on your court due date. When you talk to the court, be sure to confirm with them that your appearance is not required.
If you fail to appear or pay your citation on or before the scheduled date:
you may be assessed an additional civil assessment fee in the amount of $300
your case may be referred to a collections agency
you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor
a warrant may be issued for your arrest
a failure to appear hold may also be placed with DMV on your driver’s license
your license may be suspended
you may not be able to renew your car’s registration
If you contact the court and take action to respond to your ticket by your court due date, you will avoid these fines and fees. It will also give you an opportunity to present the court with any financial hardship or ability to pay issues that you may wish to present.
Ability To Pay Determination
You may request an ability to pay determination at any time, even after your case has been referred to collections.
If you are unable to pay the amount due because of your financial circumstances, you may submit a completed Declaration/Ability to Pay form by your court due date for the court to consider your ability to pay and determine whether to modify the sentence, request a payment plan or modify an existing one, or approve community service. You can get the form below or by contacting the court by telephone or e-mail.
If your case is in collections and you are unable to pay because of your financial circumstances, or you have good cause to excuse a failure to appear or failure to pay and you would like to ask the court to remove late fees ($300 civil assessment), you may submit a completed Declaration to Dismiss Civil Assessment/Ability to Pay form. You can get the form below or from the court in person at the GC Services window.
If you appear in court and plead “guilty” at arraignment, you may request that the court consider your ability to pay in reducing the fine to be paid. If you plead “not guilty,” after a trial and conviction, you may request that the court considers your ability to pay in deciding the fine ordered for the offenses. (Veh. Code, § 42003(c)).
Once the court determines your ability to pay you can ask it to reconsider if your financial circumstances change.