Can I ask the judge if I can take community service for a reduced fine? In studying I know that you have a choice of pleading "guilty" or "not guilty". If you plead "Not guilty", then you get to go before a judge. But by doing that, you waive your right to have the point on your record taken off. So I am stuck. As I said before, I feel I did't have enough time to stop, but regardless, I ran the red light. So please, is it possible to enter a plea of "guilty", and still see a judge, and then ask for a reduced fine?
Not all courts offer community service in lieu of a fine... Well, actually, I should say not all "Judges" offer community service in lieu or as a substitute for part of the fine amount.
Your first appearance in Court will be before a Judge. This part of the process is referred to as your "Arraignment". During your arraginment, the charges against you are read to you by the Judge and you get the opportunity to enter a plea... Whether you plead Guilty
or Not Guilty
(or even No Contest
), you are doing so before a Judge. So you WILL in fact get your chance to enter a plea of "guilty" and still see a Judge, and then ask for a reduced fine... If you so choose.
What you might want to do is call the court before your court date... And ask them if the option of Community Service is offered in Traffic Court. However, keep in mind that depending on which County you were cited in, the number on your citation might not connect you to the actual courthouse you will be appearing at. It might be a number where they just process payments, extensions... etc. So you might be better off going into court and talking to someone at the Traffic window.
And lastly... Theoretically, and assuming you opt to plead "Not Guilty" and go to trial, you are not really precluding yourself from having the option of going to Traffic School... There is nothing in the California Vehicle Code that says you can't do Traffic School if you lose in trial. The matter/decision actually rests with the Judge who sits on your trial and typically most Judges do not give you that option if you opt to go to trial.
Who knows, you might get a sympathetic Judge who will allow it but you are taking a chance that he wont.
I hope this helps...
EDIT: Let me add a few more things...
A couple of more options just in case you are not aware of them...
keep in mind that I am not in any way suggesting that you should plead Guilty or Not Guilty... I am giving you the information so that you can make an informed decision.
You should also know that you might also be entitled to an extension. Whether it be before you enter your plea or after you do so, you should be able to get some additional time assuming you wanna save up the money or whatever. So you are basically delaying the date when you will have to appear before the Judge to enter your plea of whatever you choose it to be...
If you ask for one before you enter your plea, you can request it at the Clerk's window and you can do that on or before the date you are shceduled to appear in court...
Alternatively, you can also enter your plea, see what kind of fine the Judge will impose on you, and if he/she will allow community service or not, and then ask the Judge for an extension to pay whatever monetary fine is imposed. Most courts will charge you an administrative fee for that option... But it is still an option. Some courts will require you to make periodic payments while other court will tell you just bring in the full amount when you have it. Again... Ask at the Clerk's window for what your options are.
Lastly, an addendum to the community service information I posted earlier... There is also an Administrative fee that you will have to pay for the Community Service option assuming you have that option. Sorry, I honestly don't know exactly how much it is.