The Denson Firm

Mandatory Court Appearance for Traffic Tickets

Picture this: you're in a hurry to get to work and are pulled over for speeding. Now you're late and potentially a few hundred dollars poorer because of the traffic ticket you've received.

While you may think you can write a check and be done with the matter, you could be wrong — and not knowing whether you have a mandatory court appearance for traffic tickets can cost you big time in St. Petersburg.

Some Florida traffic violations include a mandatory court appearance; not showing up for your court date can result in severe consequences, including losing your license or even going to jail. If you've been issued a traffic ticket in Florida, read it closely and pay attention to any court appearance dates.

Suppose your offense is severe enough to require that you attend court instead of simply paying the fine and accepting points on your license. In that case, it's probably a good idea to retain a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling traffic violations.

You don't have to face the judge alone if you must go to court for a traffic offense. We can help. The Denson Firm provides experienced representation for your Florida mandatory court appearance for civil traffic infractions. Contact us today for a free consultation.

What Traffic Violations Require Mandatory Court Appearances?

If you get a traffic ticket in Florida, it will be classified as either criminal or civil. Many Florida traffic court rules, apply to driving offenses classified as criminal, specifically those contained under Section III of the Florida legal code.

The state's traffic court covers procedures in any traffic case. It applies to all criminal traffic offenses, whether they are prosecuted in the state or a subdivision of the state.

Although the most common types of criminal traffic violations are driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license, several other offenses classified as illegal will earn a stiff penalty and a mandatory court appearance for traffic tickets in Florida.

If you had prior citations for some of the more serious traffic violations in Florida, you might be required to appear in court for a subsequent one. Or, if you received the ticket in conjunction with another offense, you may have to appear in court.

Sometimes, it can work in your favor to appear in court with an experienced criminal defense attorney. They may be able to mitigate the impact of your past traffic charges on your current case.

Florida law allows many traffic offenses to be settled simply by paying a fine, but a few carry a mandatory court appearance. Florida’s Traffic Court Rule 6.620 requires a mandatory court appearance for traffic tickets if you’ve been cited for:

  • Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle
  • Being responsible for an accident involving serious bodily injury
  • Being responsible for an accident involving a fatality
  • Going more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit

Look at your citation for your first court date — if it's not listed on the citation, but you were given a ticket for one of these offenses, then you will be mailed a notice of your court date by the county clerk's office.

Check the address on your ticket, too. The court will mail the ticket to the address it has on file. Even if you've recently moved and didn't receive a notice in the mail, it's still your responsibility to show up for any scheduled court appearances.

You can check with the county clerk's office in the county where you received the ticket to see if you have been assigned a court date.

If you do not appear in court on the date and time indicated on your traffic ticket, you will be considered "failure to appear" (FTA) and may have a warrant issued for your arrest. You may also get an automatic license suspension.

If you were cited for any offenses listed above, you can't simply pay a fine, and you must appear in court because the penalty for being convicted for these offenses carries more than just a small fine.

If convicted, you could face misdemeanor charges, including jail time. Or you could have your driver’s license suspended, significantly affecting your ability to work, go to school, or travel.

These are just some types of traffic offenses with a mandatory court date and are the only ones with a penalty harsher than a small fine. Florida Statute Section 318.19(1) states a statutory maximum penalty of $1,000 for the following offenses:

  • Ticket for certain vehicles carrying uncovered loads
  • Passing a stopped school bus inappropriately
  • Being involved in a crash when you don’t have valid insurance

Each offense carries a penalty of $1,000 and a driver's license suspension of six months. If the infraction is considered civil, the maximum fine is $500 in addition to any other possible penalties, and your driver's license will be suspended for three months.

Can You Pay Your Ticket and Not Go to Court?

For many traffic offenses, paying a fine and avoiding court is possible. Other crimes, however, carry a mandatory court appearance for traffic tickets in Florida. If you aren't sure whether you should appear in court, seek the guidance of a criminal attorney experienced with Florida traffic laws and requirements.

If you work with a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney, they can set your mind at ease by acting as your representative before the traffic court judge. You may not even have to say a word in court.

At The Denson Firm, we work with your hearing officer to help get the best resolution for your case and review your citation to look for ways to mitigate the effect of the charge on your driving record and your freedom. We defend you in the trial, preserving your rights and fighting for your interests if necessary.

Don’t underestimate the seriousness of charges that carry a mandatory court appearance for traffic tickets.

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?

Florida traffic courts take mandatory appearances seriously, and failure to appear for your assigned hearing date can lead to an arrest warrant being issued for failing to appear.

An FTA charge isn't just the warrant and the legal term for not going to court — it's a separate charge with its penalties. Missing your court date for a traffic ticket adds control to your traffic citation, so unless there is an excellent reason, you should attend.

However, there are many reasons people cannot make a court appearance for a traffic ticket in Florida. If you don't live in the state and cannot travel to make it, then it may be logistically impossible to get there for a court appearance. Other people may have a physical or mental condition that could preclude them from appearing in court.

If you work with an experienced Florida traffic ticket lawyer, they can represent you in court and argue on your behalf. Having your lawyer attend the hearing will count as you appear in court, and you won't have an FTA charge and an arrest warrant issued.

A local St. Petersburg criminal defense law firm focused on protecting people who have been issued traffic citations, both criminal and civil, can help if you cannot make the court appearance. They know the courts and judges and are familiar with Florida statutes and traffic rules.

Hiring a Lawyer for Traffic Violations

Many people may think of a traffic ticket as something minor — a fine to pay that isn't much more serious than an overdue library book fine. This kind of thinking can end up with disastrous consequences. The truth is that some traffic citations are criminal offenses, punishable with hefty fines and possibly jail time.

You must appear and take care of the penalties for your traffic ticket to ensure your life and freedom.

People may also believe they can appear in court for their mandatory hearing, tell the judge their side of the story, and ask for the charge to be waived. However, representing yourself on criminal charges — no matter what the charges are — isn't as simple as showing up, stating your side, and listing extenuating circumstances.

Traffic law and the proceedings in a court hearing can be complex and overwhelming for many people, especially those who have never been to court before. An experienced criminal defense lawyer guides you through the process, answers your questions, and, most importantly, addresses the court for you.

The prosecutor is often more willing to make a good plea bargain with a defense lawyer than with a person representing themselves alone. Your traffic lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge for you or more lenient penalties, especially if this is your first offense.

Your lawyer also investigates the circumstances surrounding your citation to determine whether you were improperly charged or there were violations of your constitutional rights in the process.

If you received your ticket after a car collision, you might have been cited prematurely during the initial confusion after the crash. A lawyer can sort out some of the issues surrounding your citation and ensure you aren't unfairly charged.

If this isn't your first ticket, you could have your license suspended. If you depend on driving to earn your living or get to work or school, you will have problems with the law and big problems keeping your job.

You may not realize the options your criminal defense attorney can offer you. Hiring an attorney for your traffic ticket in Florida can make a big difference when it comes to preserving your freedom and driving ability.

Do You Have a Mandatory Court Appearance in Florida Traffic Court?

We can help. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Denson Firm can represent you if you receive a traffic citation requiring a mandatory court appearance. We investigate the circumstances of your citation and strive to reduce the seriousness of the infraction and any penalties.

Your future is too important to gamble on by appearing in court alone. Our legal firm has the resources to fight your ticket and citation, including conducting our investigation into the offense.

Perhaps the officer who miswrote the ticket cited you, or you should have yet to receive a citation. Experience matters and we have the experience to understand when extenuating circumstances could help reduce your penalties.

Our defense team is your advocate and can work to protect your legal rights. Contact The Denson Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

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