In California, A traffic ticket is a Crime, therefore, a Written Complaint needs to be filed. CVC 40513(a) say’s you have the right to ask for a verified complaint to be filed if making a specific plead other then “guilty” or “nolo contendere”. However, the Complaint requirement is satisfied if the Ticket is on an approved form that is published by the Judicial Council. A pretty straightforward idea, If the Cop uses this template to write the ticket there is your chain that creates a complaint. Now the Challenge is, What if the cop used a form that is Outdated or a Non-approved form? That is handled by California Rules of the Court 4.103(a) “Notice to Appear forms” saying in a nutshell the form must be using the latest and greatest forms in the TR-INST document. The TR-INST on page 7 “3.010. Judicial Council”, say’s the Drop dead date to get your forms updated is November 15, 2015 which obviously has passed. The requirement to have “Year, Make, Model, Body style, and color” is required to be on the form shown on Page 8. The required field is not there and is marked as a “MANDATORY LANGUAGE/DATA FIELDS” as referenced on page 5 stating, “Law enforcement agencies should be aware that if a written Notice to Appear is not prepared on an approved council form, a court may conclude that it does not constitute a complaint to which a defendant may enter a plea. “If a defendant pleads other than “guilty” or “nolo contendere” and the court concludes that the Notice to Appear is defective, it could be necessary to re-file the charges by a formal complaint”. So there it is. Let me know what you think? I believe after my research I am 100% right legally but the judge may decline it knowing the amount of labor it will require for me to appeal it but screw it, I’m in to learn. fingers crossed

Sources:

The Judicial Council, lucky for us, Publishes all minutes of their meetings and notes about the updates that make on the “Traffic: Notice to Appear Forms”, found below. http://www.courts.ca.gov/32496.htm

On this page one of the link’s point to the specific report, I am referring to: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/jc-20150626-itemA5.pdf

Quick Link to latest and Greatest TR-INST: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/trinst.pdf

CA PC 16 states: 16. Crimes and public offenses include: 1. Felonies; 2. Misdemeanors; and 3. Infractions.

California Penal Code 740 states: All misdemeanors and infractions must be prosecuted by a written complaint under oath subscribed by the complainant.

VC 40513. (a) Whenever written notice to appear has been prepared, delivered, and filed with the court, an exact and legible duplicate copy of the notice when filed with the magistrate, in lieu of a verified complaint, shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant may plead “guilty” or “nolo contendere.” If, however, the defendant violates his or her promise to appear in court or does not deposit lawful bail, or pleads other than “guilty” or “nolo contendere” to the offense charged, a complaint shall be filed that shall conform to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 948) of Title 5 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, which shall be deemed to be an original complaint, and thereafter proceedings shall be had as provided by law, except that a defendant may, by an agreement in writing, subscribed by him or her and filed with the court, waive the filing of a verified complaint and elect that the prosecution may proceed upon a written notice to appear. (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), whenever the written notice to appear has been prepared on a form approved by the Judicial Council, an exact and legible duplicate copy of the notice when filed with the magistrate shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant may enter a plea and, if the notice to appear is verified, upon which a warrant may be issued.  If the notice to appear is not verified, the defendant may, at the time of arraignment, request that a verified complaint be filed.  In the case of an infraction violation in which the defendant is a minor, the defendant may enter a plea at the arraignment upon a written notice to appear.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of an infraction violation, no consent of the minor is required prior to conducting the hearing upon a written notice to appear.

Rule 4.103. Notice to Appear forms (a) Traffic offenses A printed or electronic notice to appear that is issued for any violation of the Vehicle Code other than a felony or for a violation of an ordinance of a city or county relating to traffic offenses must be prepared and filed with the court on Automated Traffic Enforcement System Notice to Appear (form TR-115), Traffic/Nontraffic Notice to Appear (form TR-130), Electronic Traffic/Nontraffic Notice to Appear (4-inch format) (form TR-135), or Electronic Traffic/Nontraffic Notice to Appear (3-inch format) (form TR-145), and must comply with the requirements in the current version of the Judicial Council’s instructions, Notice to Appear and Related Forms (form TR-INST).

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