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Petty Offenses

Frequently Asked Questions

Petty Offenses

I have received a ticket while on federal property, now what do I do?
If you have received a ticket for a minor offense while on federal property, you generally have the option of either paying the fine or appearing in federal court to contest your ticket. If you choose to pay the fine, please follow the instructions on the ticket you received. If you choose to contest your ticket, do not pay. You will soon receive a letter giving you a date on which to appear in federal court. If the officer wrote a date on your ticket, please call our office prior to your date to see if you are on the court's calendar.

If a ticket is marked “optional appearance” by the issuing officer, you may do one of the following:

  • Pay the fine before the court date. A conviction will not be reported to the California DMV. The case will thereby be closed, and you need not appear in court.

  • Do not pay the fine, and appear in court on the scheduled date, time, and place to contest the ticket. (You may also call the appropriate location as indicated below and ask to reschedule your appearance, so long as your scheduled appearance date has not yet passed.)

If a ticket is marked “mandatory appearance” by the issuing officer:

  • You must appear in court on the scheduled date, time and place as indicated in CVB's Notice to Appear or call the appropriate location as indicated below before your scheduled court date and ask to reschedule your appearance.

I want to protest my ticket. How can I do that?
You will soon be sent a letter with a court date. You must appear on that date at the place and time specified in the letter. You should bring with you everything that supports your argument. For instance, photographs, witnesses (or a witness’ statement, signed under penalty of perjury, as to what occurred), and/or diagrams can sometimes help to prove that you were given the ticket unfairly. 

  • If your court is in Eureka/McKinleyville, the court appearances are every other month on the second Monday at 11:00 a.m. The address for the courthouse is 3140 Boeing Avenue, McKinleyville, California, 95519. If you need to reschedule, contact 707.445.3612.

  • If your court is in Hopland/Santa Rosa, the court appearances are ever other month on the second Friday at 10:30 a.m. The address for the courthouse is 99 South E. Street, Santa Rosa, California, 95404. If you need to reschedule, contact 707.445.3612.

  • If your court is in Salinas, the court appearances are every other month on the first Monday at 8:00 a.m. The address for the courthouse is 1000 South Main Street, #214, Salinas, California, 93901. If you need to reschedule, contact 408.916.2230.

  • If your court is in San Jose, the court appearances are every other month on the first Thursday at 1:00 p.m. The address for the courthouse is 280 South 1st Street, 4th Floor Confrerence Room 4090A, San Jose, California, 95113. If you need to reschedule, contact 408.916.2230.

  • If your court is in San Francisco, the court appearances are at 12:45 p.m. The address for the courthouse is 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 18th Floor (Courtroom 14), San Francisco, California 94102. If you need to reschedule, contact 415.522.2149.

What is the "Petty Offense Calendar?"
"Court" for minor infractions on federal property is often called the "Petty Offense Calendar." It is not like a typical federal court appearance; there is no judge, and you are not entitled to an attorney. The petty offense calendar is more like a structured settlement or negotiation proceeding, with representatives of the United States Attorney's Office making offers to resolve the case.

The petty offense calendar can be slow, crowded, and frustrating for those fighting tickets. The procedure, however, often produces deals that are in the defendant's interest when compared to the original fine amount, or with the consequences of a conviction at trial. Remember, moreover, that someone who has resolved a ticket can always assert the right to go to trial in front of a magistrate.

D.U.I. offenses, and many drug offenses, do not qualify for the petty offense procedure. These cases begin directly before a federal magistrate.

What will happen at the "Petty Offense Calendar?"
If you have received a ticket and wish to contest your ticket, you will receive a notice giving you a court date on which to appear. When you appear on that date, you will not see a judge. Instead, you will have the opportunity to meet with a representative of the United States Attorney’s Office in an effort to settle your ticket. After hearing your side of what happened, the U.S. Attorney’s representative can do one of three things – dismiss the ticket, reduce the fine amount and ask you to pay that, or ask you to pay the full fine amount. You can accept or reject their offer to settle your ticket. If you reject their offer to settle, you are effectively asking to go to trial. If the U.S. Attorney’s representative asks you to pay a fine and you agree to pay the fine, the US Attorney's office in San Francisco does not consider it a conviction. Other jurisdictions may consider payment to be a conviction. It is called a forfeiture of collateral and, according to the United States Attorney’s Office present policy (2/8/2005), it will not be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the State of California, or to your insurance company. If you do not agree with what the U.S. Attorney’s representative is asking you to do, you can tell her that you want to exercise your right to go to trial. The clerk of the court will then give you another court date for the trial or will make arrangements to notify you by letter of your court date for trial. Please keep in mind that if you are found guilty following your trial, it will be considered a conviction and the judge can choose to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the state of California, and/or your insurance company. Any vehicle code vilation is not generally reported to the DMV per the US Attorney's past policy (12/2012).

I received my letter with my court date and I cannot make it on that date. What do I do?
You should call the clerk’s office in the appropriate location right away and ask to reschedule your court date before your scheduled court date:

  • San Francisco 415.522.2149

  • Eureka and Santa Rosa 707.445.3612

  • Salinas and San Jose 408.916.2230

Can I get a payment plan or community service?
You must appear at your court date in order to request either a payment plan or community service. If you want to pay the fine or if you choose to accept the U.S. Attorney’s representative’s offer of paying a particular fine, you can ask for either a payment plan or community service. You should be prepared to share details of your financial situation in order to demonstrate that either a payment plan or community service is necessary. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not let you do community service for religious groups. You may generally perform any other charitable/community work for an established organization and receive credit towards your fine. If the U.S Attorney’s representative permits you to do community service, she will give you the appropriate forms which must be completed by the organization. Usually, at the completion of your community serivce, the ticket will be dismissed

Petty Offenses

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Felony Offenses

Have you been charged with a federal felony?

parole, early termination of supervised release, and treaty transfer

Do you have questions about federal parole, early termination of supervised release, or dealing with a treaty transfer?