If you didn’t get a courtesy notice on your Los Angeles traffic ticket, you are not alone.
A courtesy notice is a reminder of your date to either pay your ticket, or to fight it in traffic court.
When you get pulled over by a CHP or local police officer, and are issued a traffic ticket, sometimes the officer will tell you to wait for the courtesy notice to come in the mail.
However, it is rare that Los Angeles actually issues a courtesy notice anymore.
Also, you have no legal right to the courtesy notice. That’s why it is called a “courtesy” notice: it only serves as a courtesy to remind you about your traffic ticket and to remind you when and where you have to go to traffic court to handle it.
How am I Supposed to Know Where and When to Go to Court?
At the time you got your traffic citation, the officer had you sign it at the bottom of the ticket. That is your written promise to appear in court.
Also near the bottom of your traffic ticket is the date and time you are supposed to appear and the name and address of the courthouse you’re supposed to appear in.
What Happens If I Failed to Appear in Court?
If you do not pay your ticket or set up a court date to contest it by the due date on the ticket, you will be charged with failure to appear .
If you are charged with failure to appear, you may have a defense if the officer didn’t mark on your traffic ticket when and where you were supposed to appear.
Under VC 40508 you can be convicted of failure to appear as a misdemeanor – even though you were initially charged with a traffic ticket infraction! A misdemeanor failure to appear will show up on your criminal record and can make it harder for you to get a job.
You can avoid getting a misdemeanor on your criminal record by refusing to pay GC Services on your ticket.
GC Services is the collections agency that collects on all failure to appear and failure to pay cases for the Los Angeles Superior Court. When you pay GC Services, you are pleading guilty to the ticket as well as the FTA charge.
Further, your fines will be substantially higher if you pay GC Services.
Get Help from a Traffic Ticket Attorney
As a traffic ticket attorney, I’ve handled thousands of failure to appear traffic tickets.
In all traffic ticket cases, as long as you haven’t paid GC Services yet, I can get the FTA charge reduced to an infraction so it will stay off of your criminal record.
In many cases I can get the traffic ticket and failure to appear charges dismissed altogether, saving you substantial money in fines to GC Services and saving your DMV record from harmful points or convictions.