Crime & Justice

You got a ticket for jaywalking. Here's what you do next

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Let's say you didn't follow our guide on avoiding a ticket while crossing the street.

Now you're staring down at a pretty hefty citation – up to $250 in Los Angeles, which is quadruple the price of parking illegally.

To help you fight that ticket, KPCC spoke with several attorneys who specialize in pedestrian law for some advice.

What court do I go to?

Traffic court, the same place you'd go for a moving violation

How different is it from fighting a ticket for a moving violation?

Not different at all. "It's just you, the judge and the officer that wrote the ticket if he or she shows up," says attorney Steven Mandell.

Just like challenging a traffic ticket, it is a lengthy process.

There are a minimum of two court appearances: an arraignment and a trial.

What a minute: I can get arraigned for a pedestrian ticket?

Yep, but that isn't as scary as it sounds. You just show up to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Then they'll schedule your trial at a later date.

During the trial, the judge will collect testimony from you and the issuing officer. Presenting your case is no guarantee you'll be successful, however.

"Almost always, the judge ends up finding the officer issued the right citation," says attorney Marvin Vallejo.

What details or evidence could help my case?

Pictures of the location are helpful, the attorneys say, as well as witness statements.

"Maybe it was not safe to use the crosswalk, or the nearest crosswalk was too far away," says Vallejo.

What if I don't pay at all?

The court will treat your actions as an admission of guilt, and the fine will get turned over to a collections agency.

Mandell says courts once issued bench warrants for your arrest, but that doesn't happen anymore.

You cannot be taken to jail, nor does it affect your credit."They basically can only ask you to pay," says Vallejo. "Very rarely are there any consequences for not paying."

Vallejo adds that these citations are subject to an ability to pay. If you can prove that the fine would be an undue financial burden, the judge may remove it or allow you to perform community service instead.

Could I potentially lose my driver's license?

No.

"The DMV here in California never finds out about jaywalking tickets," says Vallejo.

Because you were on foot, and not on wheels, the citation is never sent their way.

Could I get a point on my driver's license?

"No, it's not a point, either," says Mandell.

Points are only issued for moving violations. As a pedestrian, you aren't subject to incurring points.

Is it worth just paying the fine instead of going through all this?

One lawyer told KPCC very curtly to "just pay the fine" before hanging up.

"It is sort of a hassle," adds Vallejo, who says taking time away from work to assemble and argue your case might not save you any money in the long run.