I got a summons ticket, what should I do?

If you can afford it, hire an attorney.

1. Meet with the attorney to discuss what happened, the charges, and what to expect on the court appearance. Some charges are simple, but require serious attention. For instance, parks department charges are "unclassified" misdemeanors. That means that the ticket for being in the park after dark or leaving your dog poop could actually result in a criminal record.
2. The attorney may conduct an investigation (including taking pictures and speaking to witnesses) or do some legal research.
3. Go to the court appearance. Expect to be in court for at least an hour to two. An experienced attorney should be able to get the case dismissed or negotiate a deal with a minimal fine and no criminal record or license points.


If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you when you go to court.

Be sure to bring with you any evidence that may help you including: pictures of the location, names and numbers for witnesses.  
If the attorney is unable to get the result you want at the first appearance, you may have to go to court a second time.


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Updates: Fisher Law Practice, P.C. Provided Conflict Resolution Training for Americorps' National Leadership Conference in San Diego, CA