Legal Question in Administrative Law in California

What happens to a minor if he or she doesn't go to court? Does their license still get suspended? If so til how long?

Asked on 3/14/13, 2:42 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
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You mean, if the minor fails to appear on a traffic citation?

First, of course, many citations (traffic tickets) can be handled to the law's satisfaction by paying the prescribed fine (or "bail").

If the citation in question requires a court appearance, and the ticketed party fails to appear, what happens next and how soon will depend upon the county or court district and how busy it is; many of them are overworked and underfunded and may take months to react to a failure to appear.

However, when the court does act, the results won't be more favorable than they would have been if the ticketed minor had appeared as ordered! The wheels of the law grind slowly, but they grind real fine.

In particular, look at Penal Code sections 853.7 and 853.8, making failure to appear a misdemeanor (regardless of guilt or innocence on the underlying matter for which the ticket was issued) and requiring the judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant within 20 days of the FTA. The DMV will also eventually be notified.

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3/14/13, 9:39 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless
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...doesn't go to court?

You'll incur a new Failure to Appear criminal misdemeanor charge, and will have an arrest warrant issued.

You'll then have to deal with the warrant, meaning you must turn yourself in to the issuing court, with or without an attorney. On misdemeanors and infractions, an attorney can appear in court without the defendant being present – which is safer and avoids immediately being taken into custody. You’ll try to negotiate a recall of the warrant[s] and bail reduction or OR release. You’ll try to negotiate a plea bargain on any ‘Failure to Appear’ charge that caused the warrant. You’ll try to negotiate a plea bargain or take to trial the outstanding charge that caused the warrant. Unless you're competent to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor trying to put you in jail, most people hire an attorney who can. If serious about hiring counsel to help in this, feel free to contact me.

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3/14/13, 11:17 am

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