If you got a traffic ticket in Los Angeles County but failed to appear in court, you may have received threatening phone calls or letters from GC Services.
GC Services is a collections agency that collects on unpaid traffic tickets for the Los Angeles County Superior Court (as well as for other counties throughout California).
What I am about to tell you applies in Los Angeles County only, because GC Services will operate differently from county to county, depending on the specific contract GC Services has with that county.
A Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Lawyer’s Perspective on GC Services
When you fail to appear on a traffic ticket in LA County, your case will be referred to a collections agency called GC Services.
Additionally, here is what can also happen:
- the DMV will place a VC 40509.5 hold on your driver’s license,
- you will be charged with failure to appear;
- your license will become suspended, if you do not take care of the DMV hold in time;
- your original traffic ticket fine will go up significantly, in some cases quadrupling.
The above negative consequences can be mitigated, but to do so means putting your case back in court rather than paying GC Services.
What GC Services Isn’t Telling You
GC Services, being a collections agency, has one main job to do: get your money.
And to do that, they will sometimes omit information and even outright lie to you about your legal rights concerning your Los Angeles traffic ticket.
What do they omit?
They fail to tell you that when you pay them, you are pleading guilty to all counts on the traffic ticket in addition to the FTA charge – all of which can adversely affect your DMV record.
Additionally, the failure to appear conviction will in some cases appear on your criminal record when a background check is conducted.
The point is, you should handle your case in traffic court rather than pay GC Services, if the option is available to you.
What do they lie about?
They will flat out tell you that you can’t see the judge and your only option is to pay them – even in cases where this is not true! (I know this because I have heard countless stories from my clients.)
In Los Angeles County, when you have failed to appear on your traffic ticket, you still have the right to see the judge! (That is, as long as you haven’t yet made a payment under the amnesty program to GC Services).
You cannot trust GC Services – an agency whose job it is to collect your money – on whether you’ve lost your right to a court date. You should talk to a traffic ticket attorney first.
When You Really Have to Pay GC Services
The only time you are locked in to paying GC Services on a failure to appear, is when you have already paid them under the amnesty program (even if you put down a small payment of $25).
A failure to pay is different from a failure to appear. You are not entitled to another court date on a failure to pay because you have already had your day in court in this situation.
One final note: you don’t have to pay GC Services on a failure to appear or a failure to pay to clear a DMV hold, in the case where the ticket is greater than 5 years old. Under the 5 year DMV purge rule, the DMV will purge all holds older than 5 years old.
So in sum, you do not have to pay GC Services and are entitled to a court date when you have a failure to appear and you haven’t made a payment under the amnesty program with GC Services.
Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney for Help
Dealing with your Los Angeles traffic ticket can be an arduous and confusing process, because there is often a lot of misinformation as well as conflicting information received from the DMV, GC Services, and from the court.
If you want a straight answer about the options available to you, you can contact me (Attorney Paul Denni) here for a free consultation