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Important: The Court is switching to a new case management system starting October 9, 2015. For some cases, you may be directed to contact the court to enable an online payment accout in order to make payments online. This would generally include individuals who's cases were filed with the court before 10/13/2015.
If your fine is delinquent and has been assigned to Alliance One (the court's collection agency) all questions must be directed to Alliance One at 1-877-541-8420. You may also visit a collections representative in person at 701 Ocean Street, Room A1, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, inside the main courthouse building. Their office is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays excluding holidays. They are closed for the one-hour period from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. each day for lunch.
TRAFFIC AMNESTY PROGRAM
Beginning October 1, 2015, the State of California will begin an 18-month traffic violator amnesty program allowing individuals with past-due court-ordered debt related to traffic infractions to pay a reduced amount. Debt must be owed prior to January 1, 2013, to have outstanding delinquent debt reduced by either 50 or 80 percent depending on whether eligibility criteria are met. The program also allows individuals whose driver's license was suspended as a result of a failure to pay or to appear to reinstate their license. Participants must agree to pay off the reduced amount or set up a payment plan. Participants failing to fulfill their payment plan would face wage garnishment to fulfill the terms of the agreement.
Amnesty Participation Form (double click link)
AMNESTY PROGRAM RESOURCES
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. How do I pay my ticket and close my case?
You have three options:
1. (Recommended) Pay Online: https://portal.santacruz.org/portal or go to the link located on this website under “pay my fine.” The Court recommends using the online method to pay fines because it is quick, easy, and you avoid waiting in line.
2. Pay by mail: send payment to Santa Cruz Superior Court, 701 Ocean Street, Room 120, Santa Cruz, CA 95060; make check or money order payable to Santa Cruz Superior Court; please include your case or ticket number. Do not mail cash to the Court.
3. Pay in person: at either Santa Cruz or Watsonville clerk’s office or by placing payment in the drop box at either location. Please do not place cash in the drop box. The Court cannot accept credit cards at the public windows at this time. If you need to pay your fine with a credit card, please use the online option (Option #1).
Some violations require mandatory court appearance and cannot simply be paid. Please refer to your Courtesy Notice for mandatory court appearance information.
1.If you choose to pay the bail on your ticket without going to trial, it is called bail forfeiture. Choosing bail forfeiture means that the ticket will be deemed paid and the resulting conviction reported on your driving record, if it is a DMV reportable violation.
2.For moving violations you may attend Traffic Violator School if you meet certain requirements.
3.If your ticket includes any “correctable violations,” for example, mechanical issues like missing a headlight or insurance/registration violations, “proof of correction” will be required before you can pay the reduced amount shown on your courtesy notice. Also See FAQ #8 for more information about correctable violations.
- 2. Do I pay my ticket if I want to Contest it?
Yes. If you want to contest your ticket, you must request a Court Trial and pay the bail amount. You may pay your bail online at the following Web link (https://portal.santacruzcourt.org/portal) and the Court will mail you your trial date. You also have the option of mailing or bringing your payment to the Court. Do not post your bail online if you are requesting a Trial by Written Declaration. See FAQ 13 for more information about contesting your ticket.
- 3. I haven't received a Courtesy Notice in the mail, what should I do?
It generally takes up to two weeks for you to receive your courtesy notice in the mail. The Court must first receive the citation/ticket from the citing agency before a courtesy notice can be generated and issued. Currently, the court is using a new case managment system and there has been significant delays with courtsey notices. Please use one of the following options when attempting to follow up on your citation:
1. Call the Court at 831-420-2200 or send an email to email@example.com. Please be prepared to provide your ticket number. Please include the ticket number if you choose email.
2. Go to either the Santa Cruz or Watsonville Court Clerk’s office and ask if your ticket has been entered. Please bring your ticket with you. Location information for each Courthouse is listed on the Web.
The Court is not required to send out courtesy notices but does so for the convenience of customers. Courtesy notices are mailed to the address written on the traffic ticket. If you have moved, and your address is different from the one on your ticket, there is a good chance that you will not receive a courtesy notice. The fact that you have not received a courtesy notice does not relieve you of the responsibility to resolve your ticket.
- 4. What is a Courtesy Notice?
A courtesy notice contains general information about requirements and options available to you for resolving your ticket. The notice will be sent to the address listed on the ticket within 30 days from the date the ticket was issued. Make sure to carefully review both sides of the courtesy notice. It will include the following information:
- Due date;
- Amount of bail (based on the violations and your prior driving history);
- Proof of correction requirements;
- Mandatory court appearance requirements;
- Traffic School information;
- and Trial and Trial by Written Declaration information.
If you do not get a courtesy notice by the date written at the bottom of the ticket, you must contact the Court by phone, in person, or by mail or email. Failure to appear, or failure to comply by the due date on the Courtesy Notice, may result in one or more of the following:
- The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hold being placed on your driver’s license;
- A Civil assessment charge of $300.00 per Penal Code 1214.1 (Failure to Appear);
- A Case being sent to collections.
- 5. What is a civil assessment charge?
Failure to comply within the due date on the Courtesy Notice, or failure to pay your fines as directed, will result in the Court referring the case to a collections agency and adding an additional $300.00 fee pursuant to Penal Code section 1214.1.
- 6. Is the date at the bottom of my ticket a court date?
No, the date at the bottom, if one is indicated, is not a court date.
Some Photo “Red Light” tickets contain a date at the bottom of the ticket but that date is not a court date. That is the date by which you shall contact the Court if you have not received a Courtesy Notice.
Other tickets may state that you shall contact the Court within 30 days if you have not received a Courtesy Notice.
See FAQ # 3 for information about contacting the Court if you have not received a courtesy notice.
- 7. How do I sign up for Traffic School?
In order to attend Traffic School, you must pay the Court the entire bail amount, which is listed on the Courtesy Notice, plus a non-refundable $52.00 Traffic School fee. The Traffic School Company will charge you an additional fee upon enrollment; this fee is separate from the fines due to the Court.
IMPORTANT: YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR A FINE REDUCTION OR COMMUNITY SERVICE HOURS IF YOU REQUEST TO ATTEND TRAFFIC SCHOOL. You must have all correctable violations corrected and dismissed by the Court clerk prior to requesting Traffic School.
There are three ways to pay for your Traffic School fees:
1. (recommended) Pay online at https://portal.santacruzcourt.org/portal or go to the link located on this website under “pay my fine” (DO NOT use ePay-it to sign up for Traffic School if you have mechanical/equipment or license/registration violations.)
2. Pay by mail: Send payment to Santa Cruz Superior Court, 701 Ocean Street, Room 120, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Please make your check or money order payable to ‘Santa Cruz Superior Court’ and include your case number. The Court will not accept a cash payment by mail.
3. Pay In person: At either Santa Cruz or Watsonville courthouse clerk’s office or by placing payment in the drop box at either location. The Court will not accept a cash payment through the drop box.
For Traffic School Programs visit:
DMV-Occupational License Status Information System http://www.dmv.ca.gov/olinq2/welcome.do
Eligibility requirements to attend Traffic School are as follows:
- You must currently possess a valid CA driver’s license;
- You must not have attended Traffic School in California within the last 18 months, calculated from violation date to violation date;
- Your ticket must not have defaulted to a failure to appear;
- The violation(s) on your ticket must be Traffic School eligible;
- and The violation must have occurred in a non-commercial vehicle.
Individuals cited for any of the following violations are NOT eligible for Traffic School:
- Any ticket that contains a violation that carries a negligent operator point count of more than one point;
- Any speeding violation in which the speed cited is more than 25 miles per hour above the posted speed limit;
- Mechanical or equipment violations or any non-moving violations (i.e., insurance or registration); Alcohol and drug related violations;
- License violations; Out of State License holders;
- and/or License provision violations.
You will be given 90 days to complete a Traffic School course. Please be advised that there is no extension or grace period available for the date to complete Traffic School. Additionally, there are no refunds of fees paid by a defendant of any type or for any reasons in order to register with the Court for Traffic School.
Failure to complete a Traffic School program in a timely manner will result in a conviction against your driving record and the non-refundable Traffic School fee will be forfeited as payment in full.
If you are eligible and decide not to attend Traffic School, your automobile insurance may be adversely affected.
Please click here for information about bicycle traffic school.
- 8. How do I obtain proof of correction?
Correction for most mechanical violations can be inspected and signed off by a law enforcement officer or certain employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The inspecting officer can sign either the Courtesy Notice or the back of the citation. Send the signed citation or courtesy notice to the Court along with a $25.00 transaction fee for each correctable violation, pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 40611(a). The fine amounts with and without proof of correction are indicated on the Courtesy Notice.
Do not pay your fine online if you wish to provide proof of correction for a reduced fine. You can mail in your proof of correction or come to either the Santa Cruz or Watsonville Courthouse. For the address and contact information of each location, click here.
The Court can provide you with a replacement proof of correction form if you have lost your ticket or courtesy notice. You may call, email, or visit the Court in order to request this form.
Insurance Violations are not “correctable violations” and cannot be signed off or corrected by law enforcement or DMV personnel.
If you were insured at the time a ticket was issued to you, but were unable to provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance) to the officer who cited you, you may submit a copy of your insurance card or policy along with the $25.00 transaction fee to the Court.
Acceptable proof of financial responsibility must be issued by the insurer and MUST include the following information:
- Name of insurance carrier;
- VIN number (vehicle identification number);
- Policy number;
- Effective dates of coverage, which must cover the date the ticket was issued for dismissal of the charge;
- and Name of person who received the ticket.
If you have obtained insurance after the date of violation, you may either:
1. Submit proof that insurance was purchased after the violation date with a plea of guilty or plea of no contest and request a reduction in the fine on the Court Plea Form; or
2. Pay the full bail amount for this violation.
Registration Violations: The Court will accept a copy of your current valid registration as proof of correction for most registration violations. If the officer cited the violation as “non-correctable” then you may submit proof of current valid registration with a plea of guilty or no contest and request a reduction in the fine amount.
If you cannot provide valid registration but you have paid all DMV fees, or if you have sold or junked the vehicle, then you may provide proof to the Court with a plea of guilty or no contest for a reduction or dismissal of the fine. (Plea Form)
- 9. May I request one of the following: A payment plan, community service, bicycle safety school, or a fine reduction?
Yes. Complete the Plea Form and FAX, mail, email, or hand-deliver it to the Court on or before the due date listed on your courtesy notice. The Court will consider your request and you will be notified of the Judicial Officer’s decision by mail. A $30.00 administrative fee will be added to the total bail for all payment plans. The fee is mandatory and will not be waived once imposed.
Scan and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Mail to: 701 Ocean Street, Room 120, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Deliver in person to: Santa Cruz or Watsonville Courthouses Fax to: 831-420-2263
NOTE: If a fine reduction is requested, or if community service hours are requested, then you are forfeiting your opportunity to attend Traffic School for eligible violations. (See FAQ #7.)
- 10. If I use a payment plan, can I still set a court date and request my fine be reduced?
No, by signing a payment plan you are admitting guilt to the charges and promising to pay the fine amount plus the $30.00 administrative fee.
- 11. How do I request a modification of my existing court order, request an extension of time to appear, or request a court appearance?
Fill out the Modification Request Form and include your name, address, and case number. Please send the competed form to one of the following:
Scan and email to: email@example.com Mail to: Santa Cruz Superior Court, 701 Ocean Street, Room 120, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Deliver in person to: Santa Cruz or Watsonville Clerks office Fax to: 831-420-2263
- 12. What is an arraignment?
It is the first hearing after you receive your ticket. At this hearing, the Commissioner or Judge will explain the following information:
Tell you the charges against you; Advise you of your rights; and Ask if you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
An arraignment hearing is not mandatory in most cases; however, if your Courtesy Notice states “Mandatory Court,” then you will need to schedule an arraignment hearing.
You may schedule an arraignment by:
1. By calling the Court at 831-420-2200; or
2. In person by visiting either the Santa Cruz or Watsonville Clerk’s Office.
- 13. How do I contest my ticket?
You may contest your ticket by performing one of the following options:
- Post bail online at https://portal.santacruzcourt.org/portal. The Court will mail you a trial date;
- Write a letter to the Court asking for a trial date and enclose the full bail amount, payable to Superior Court of Santa Cruz County. Please include the case number on your check or money order. Doing this does not require you to show up for an in-person arraignment. PLEASE DO NOT MAIL CASH;
- Schedule an in-person court arraignment. You may do this in person at the clerk’s office located at 701 Ocean Street, Room 120 in Santa Cruz or at 1 Second Street, Room 300 in Watsonville. You may also call the Court at 831-420-2200. This option does not require that you pay your bail ahead of time. Your trial date will be set at your arraignment hearing. (See FAQ #11.);
- Request a Trial by Declaration (“TBD”). If you request a written Trial by Declaration you waive your right to appear, to testify in person, and to subpoena witnesses. In order to be eligible for this option, you must request a TBD prior to the due date on your Courtesy Notice. (Please Note: Only infraction cases resulting from a moving violation are eligible for TBD.) You may contact the Court for a TBD Packet by phone or by sending a written request via mail or email. You will be required to send your full bail amount payable to the Superior Court of Santa Cruz County when you return your TBD packet to the Court.
- Questions about Court Trials
What happens when I go to court?
The court will listen to the statements of the sworn witnesses against you and may question each witness. You may then present your case to the Court and question any witnesses. After both sides have presented their case, the Court will rule on the matter or take the matter under submission. If the Court takes the matter under submission, you will be notified by mail of the court's decision and if found guilty a sentence will be imposed.
How long will the trial take?
Court trials are regularly scheduled in the mornings and afternoons. If your trial is scheduled in the morning, plan to be in court until 12:00 p.m. If your trial is scheduled in the afternoon, plan to be in court until 4:30 p.m.
Should I bring my evidence?
If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits, which you plan to present at the time of the trial, bring them with you on your trial date
Should my witnesses appear?
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court. Do this well in advance of your trial date using the Court's Order to Attend Court Form. You can also obtain a subpoena form from the Clerk’s Office or the Law Library. Please complete the subpoena form, have the subpoena served, and file the subpoena, including proof of service, with the Court on or before your trial date.
What if I am found not guilty?
The violation will not appear on your record and, if reportable, will not be reported to the DMV. If you paid your bail, your payment will be returned by mail within sixty days. Make sure your current address is on file with the Court.
What if I am late?
If your case is called before you arrive for court, you will be considered absent for your trial.
What if I do not appear at the time of trial?
Your trial can be heard in your absence. You may be found guilty and your payment will be applied to your fine; and, if applicable, your driving record will show a conviction.
Will the officer who issued the citation be in court?
The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court.
What if the officer does not show up?
The officer will be notified to attend court and your case will be heard regardless of whether or not the officer attends the hearing.
How do I request for Postponement of a Traffic Court Trial?
You must perform the following steps when requesting to postpone a traffic court trial:
- Request a postponement at least 15 days prior to the hearing date;
- Make the request in writing and state the reason(s) you need a postponement;
- Your request must also state “TIME IS WAIVED”, if you are submitting it 45 days beyond your arraignment date;
- The original request must be filed with the Court; and
- Mail or deliver a copy of your request to the citing agency. Your original request will not be processed unless it indicates that you have mailed or hand delivered a copy to the citing agency (i.e., Santa Cruz Police Department, CHP, etc.)
How is a Trial by Declaration different than a Court trial?
A Trial by Written Declaration (TBD) is a written trial where you and the citing officer send in testimony through the mail. Only infraction cases resulting from a moving violation are eligible for TBD. If you request a TBD, you are required to waive your rights to appear, as well as your rights to testify in person and to subpoena witnesses. A request for TBD must be received prior to the due date on your Courtesy Notice.
Superior Court of California,
County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean Street, Room 120
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Superior Court of California,
County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean Street, Room 120
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday - Friday in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. A mail slot is provided for filings after 3:00 PM.
Come in the morning and avoid the lines.
Items must be received by 5:00 PM.
Phones are answered from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday - Friday.