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Arraignment Hearing
What is an Arraignment Hearing?

An arraignment hearing[G] is usually your first appearance in court before a judicial officer[G] for your infractions ticket[G]. You will be advised of your rights and informed of the charges against you. You will be asked to enter a plea to those charges.
You may have a lawyer represent you or you may choose to handle your case pro per[G] and represent yourself. You will not be entitled to court appointed counsel[G].
Important
An arraignment is not a trial where arguments for a case are heard.
How can you prepare for court?

You should have your documents available to show the court. This can include:
  • Your ticket[G]
  • Driver’s license or identification card
  • Proof of registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of correction
For a list of agencies authorized to sign correctable violations[G], view the Agency Listing.
What do you do on your court date?

You should allow enough time to arrive at your assigned courtroom early. Look for your name on the court calendar posted outside the courtroom. Check with the clerk if you do not see your name on the list or if the list is not posted.
Why is a temporary Judge hearing your case?

Your case may be presented before a temporary judge[G]. You may also hear the judge called a pro tem judge[G]. A temporary judge is an attorney who has volunteered to help the court by hearing certain kinds of cases. Temporary judges are attorneys who have been licensed for at least 10 years and have completed a training program for judges.
You will be asked to stipulate[G] that a temporary judge may hear and decide your case. If you do not consent, your case may be rescheduled to a later court date or sent to another court to be heard.
What you can expect during court?

The judge or court clerk will usually start the hearing with explanation of what will happen during the hearing. This information can include:
  • An overview of your rights
  • Your plea options
  • What the different pleas mean
  • Your traffic school[G] options
  • Fine[G] payment arrangements
The judge or clerk will call roll to find out who is present for their hearing.
Cases may not be heard in the order listed on the court calendar so you should remain in the courtroom to wait your turn.
The judge may call a group of names. You should follow the instructions given by the judge or the court clerk about where to stand and how to proceed.
When the judge is ready to hear your case, your name will be called. When you are asked to speak, you should:
  • Be truthful
  • Control your feelings
  • Be respectful of the court
  • Politely ask the judge to explain if you do not understand a question or comment
What are your plea options?

You have a choice when the judge asks how you wish to enter your plea. You will chose from the following options:
If You Plead: This Means You:
Not Guilty Do not admit to the charge
Guilty Admit to the charge
No-Contest Admit to the charge but it cannot be used against you in a civil action
What happens if you plead not guilty?

Your case will go to trial. Your trial must be held within 45 days unless you waive time[G] or agree to wait longer for your trial if you chose to plead not guilty.
There are three types of trials:
Trial Type: This Means You will:
Court Trial[G] Testify about the facts in the case before a judicial officer. The officer who issued the ticket is subpoenaed[G] to appear and will testify. You may subpoena witnesses[G] on your own behalf.
Summary Trial[G] Appear in court but the officer is not present. The proceedings are based on the ticket and you do not have the right to subpoena witnesses to appear on your behalf.
Trial by Written Declaration[G] Write a statement explaining the facts of the case as you understand them and why the court should rule in your favor. The officer who wrote your ticket will also prepare a statement for the court. This process allows you to tell your story without the time and stress of appearing for trial. The judge will determine the case solely based on these declarations[G]. It is up to the judge to allow you this type of trial.
What happens if you plead guilty or no-contest?

Your guilty or no-contest plea is an admission that you have committed the charged violation. The judge may require that you pay the base fine[G] plus a penalty assessment[G] and other fees. The judge may impose a fine for each separate violation.
The judge may allow you to attend traffic school if you are eligible. You will be required to pay the fees for traffic school.
What happens if you do not appear in arraignment court?

If you do not appear in arraignment court, one or more of the following may occur:
  • A warrant[G] is issued for your arrest.
  • A warning notice is mailed to your last known address. If you do not respond within 10 days, you may be given a civil assessment[G] penalty of up to $300 for continued failure to appear[G].
  • The DMV is notified of your failure to appear. The DMV may not issue or renew your driver’s license until notified by the court that you have appeared or satisfied the charge.
What can you do if you need to change your court date?

You are not allowed to change your court date for your arraignment hearing.
Important
Arraignment hearing dates cannot be changed.
 
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