As a traffic ticket attorney in Los Angeles, I handle exacerbated traffic tickets, such as those tickets which include an additional charge under VC 40508.
What is a VC 40508 Failure to Appear in Court?
Under Vehicle Code 40508, you can be charged with a misdemeanor when you fail to pay your ticket or appear in court on the date you are supposed to, even if the underlying charge is an infraction (not punishable by jail time like a misdemeanor is), such as a traffic ticket for driving without insurance.
The good news is, VC 40508 is a “wobblette” meaning it can be reduced to an infraction so it doesn’t appear on your criminal record.
In traffic court, some judges go so far as to advise the defendants in the courtroom of their individual rights to have their failure to appear charge treated as a misdemeanor. As you can imagine, not many raise their hand.
If you’ve already paid your traffic ticket and have been convicted of VC 40508 and it is appearing on your criminal record, this can have a negative impact on employment opportunities if a potential employer reviews your criminal record and sees you failed to appear in court.
As an expungement attorney, I can petition the court on your behalf to have the misdemeanor expunged from your criminal record.
An expunged misdemeanor in this instance means you would not have to disclose it to an employer and prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against you because of the conviction.
Why Did I Get a VC 40508 Failure to Appear in Court?
Many are surprised to find out they have a failure to appear in court in the first place, and didn’t even know their license was suspended.
Mistakenly, many rely on the courtesy notice, that is supposed to come in the mail. Sometimes the officer who cited you tells you to wait for the courtesy notice to come in the mail, but most Los Angeles County traffic courts are no longer issuing courtesy notices due to budget cuts.
Even if you never saw your courtesy notice, you will still get charged with a failure to appear in court if you do not pay your traffic ticket or show up in court to contest it.
By law, your signature at the bottom of the citation is your written promise to appear. If you look closely, at the bottom of the citation that the officer gave you, you’ll see a little box checked that tells you which courthouse to appear in, and by which date.
As long as you signed the citation, you are expected to appear in court whether or not you received the notice in the mail.
What Happens if I got a VC 40508 Failure to Appear in Court Charge?
When you fail to appear on a traffic ticket, the court usually issues a “hold” on your driver’s license pursuant to Vehicle Code 40509.5. This means the court notifies the DMV that you failed to appear in court, then the DMV will place a hold on your license which will eventually ripen into a driver’s license suspension if you don’t take action.
Additionally, the court can slap you with Vehicle Code 40508 – which is usually initially charged as a misdemeanor, meaning if convicted of the failure to appear charge, you are looking at getting a charge on your criminal record.
Being convicted of Vehicle Code 40508 also means several hundred dollars in fines, as well as a potential $300 civil assessment.
As if that wasn’t enough already, if your ticket is in Los Angeles your case will be referred to GC Services, a collections agency notorious for telling you anything in order to get you to pay them – not to mention, your original fine of $200-$300 will now jump to around $800 once GC Services has a hold of it.
But don’t pay GC Services on a ticket with a failure to appear. You can get much better options in court. I have taken thousands of traffic tickets out of the hands of GC Services and put them back in traffic court where they belong in order to help my clients save money and to protect their DMV records.
Are There Any Legal Defenses to a Vehicle Code 40508 Charge?
The legal defenses for failing to appear are as follows:
- you were hospitalized;
- you were on active duty in the military; or
- you were incarcerated in either county jail or state prison on the date you were supposed to appear in court.
There are other factors that judges will listen to, such as: you were at a funeral, a loved one was sick, etc. In these cases judges are not required to dismiss or reduce your failure to appear charge, although offering these reasons may result in the judge reducing or dismissing your failure to appear.
Get Help With Your VC 40508 Failure to Appear
If you failed to appear on your traffic ticket, I can help you by:
- getting your license clear;
- getting the charge reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction; and
- getting your underlying Los Angeles traffic ticket dismissed or reduced in traffic court.
If you would like to contact me personally for a free consultation to deal with the consequences of your failure to appear, click the button below.