As a defendant you have the following constitutional and statutory rights:
- To be informed of the charges against you in open court.
- To be represented by a lawyer.
(a) In infraction matters, you are not entitled to a court appointed lawyer, however you may hire your own lawyer.
(b) In misdemeanor matters, you may hire your own lawyer or if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court may appoint one for you at no initial cost. (However, the court may order reimbursement of costs according to your ability to pay.)
- To a speedy and public trial within 45 days of arraignment, or a court trial in infraction cases 
- To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against you.
- To put on a defense and as part of that defense to testify in your own behalf and to obtain a document (a subpeona) to compel witnesses to appear without expense to you.
- To remain silent and not to be called as a witness during your own court proceeding.
- To a court or jury trial in misdemeanor cases .
- To appeal if you are found guilty at a trial, provided you file your notice of appeal within 30 days and follow other court rules. [link to Appeal Instructions TR150]
If you plead not guilty, you are telling the Court you want to contest the charge(s) against you. A contested trial will be scheduled within 45 days. You may waive your right to a speedy trial and have it scheduled within a reasonable amount of time.
While many individuals with a good record may be released on their promise to appear, the court may require bail to be posted to secure appearance at trial, particularly if you have previous failures to appear or pay.
At your trial, the officer who issued the citation will testify as a witness. If there are other witnesses, they may also be called to testify.
At the trial you may question (cross-examine) the witnesses. You may testify yourself and / or call witnesses to testify.
After the evidence is presented the judge may rule immediately whether you are guilty or not guilty or the case may be taken under submission before deciding. If the case is taken under submission, you will be notified of the ruling by mail or you may choose to return to court.
If you are found not guilty, that is the end of the case. If you are found guilty, the judge will determine how much the fine will be. The fine may be more or less than the bail originally quoted in your case depending on the facts which were presented. If your driving record shows previous convictions, the fine may increase substantially and your driver's license may be suspended for up to 6 months.
Trial by Written Declaration – This option is for infraction violations only and does not require a personal appearance. You may request a Trial by Written Declaration which requires you to post bail in lieu of your appearance.
Instructions and forms  for a Trial by Written Declaration may be obtained on our forms page , by mail, or in person . Submit the Trial by Written Declaration form with any facts or evidence you wish to have considered. A written statement will be requested from the citing officer(s). A judicial officer will review your case and you will be notified by mail of the decision
Court Trial – This option requires a court appearance and is available for all violations.
A Court Trial requires you to post bail if you do not appear for arraignment. Posting bail pursuant to VC40519(b) constitutes a waiver of your right to a speedy trial within 45 days. Send a check or money order for the total bail or appear for an arraignment and enter your plea after which the court will set your trial date and notice you by mail. If you fail to appear at the time designated for your trial, either a trial in your absence will occur (Trial in Absentia), or a VC40508(a) misdemeanor charge may be added against you, which bears a $300.00 assessment and a driver’s license suspension until resolved.
For more information, see Pleading Not Guilty, above.