Go to court or go to class?
September 22, 2010 7:02 PM   Subscribe

What should I do, show up to court and show my proof of insurance/pay a ticket OR not go to my first day of nursing school class?

I have a situation. I have to show up to court and give proof of car insurance/pay a ticket at 8:15 am. During this same time I have my first day of my second year of nursing school. I emailed my professor and his response was, " My suggestion to you is come to class then pay the ticket." If I don't go to court the ticket states several possibilities including: increased fine, arrest, trial... If I don't go to class, I am not sure what will happen to my nursing student career. Help?? (This is in California)
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How much time do you have? If this isn't TOMORROW then it's possible you could plead and cry and complain to get the court date postponed. If it IS tomorrow, why the hell didn't you spend all day today doing that?

Also, I'm no expert but I am pretty sure they are not going to arrest you unless there is more to this story.
posted by hermitosis at 7:07 PM on September 22, 2010

For it's worth, the professor who was most strict on attendance when I was in school demanded either a doctor's note or a court order for an absence to be excused. But try calling the court and see if they'll change the date. If not, I would go to court over class.
posted by Ruki at 7:07 PM on September 22, 2010

When is this? Assuming you're a couple days or more out, call the clerk of court (should be listed on the ticket) and ask for a continuance. In many jurisdictions, these are granted as a matter of course the first time*, and even if you have to have a good reason, it sounds like you do.

Alternatively, think about/look up the worst that can happen, and how likely vs. how bad those possibilities are. Will you be dropped from your school? (Possible, doubtful) Will a bench warrant be issued for your arrest? (Depends, but could be really bad) Will you be charged with a crime? My guess is the consequences of missing court (and, in effect, disrespecting the judicial process) will be worse for you and more likely to occur.

Best of luck.

*For stuff like speeding, anyway; not sure about proof of insurance.
posted by SuperNova at 7:09 PM on September 22, 2010

In some locations you can pay the ticket/show proof of insurance to the clerk of court prior to the trial date. I would call and ask, or ask any lawyers you might know who know the local system. Here in GA you can also plead guilty and pay your fine online. I would be surprised if CA did not have something similar.
posted by TedW at 7:22 PM on September 22, 2010

Here is the LA superior court website. It seems you can both pay fines and request extensions online. I don't know how needing to show proof of insurance changes things but it looks like you have some options, at least in LA.
posted by TedW at 7:27 PM on September 22, 2010

Here is the link I forgot.
posted by TedW at 7:29 PM on September 22, 2010

IF this is in the morning, go to court, pay your ticket AND THEN GET A NOTE FROM THE COURT.

I went to traffic court years ago. That judge did not PLAY. I wouldn't risk it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:06 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your professor doesn't have the authority to send the police to your home to arrest you for not going to class.
posted by mhoye at 8:15 PM on September 22, 2010 [8 favorites]

Can you hire an attorney? Where I live, attorneys routinely handle traffic tickets for $100 or less.
posted by jayder at 8:52 PM on September 22, 2010

Law trumps educational system hubris. Call the court, if this isn't 8:15am tomorrow, and find out if a note can be provided and how to go about it, or if the date/time can be moved to accommodate your schedule.
posted by davejay at 10:10 PM on September 22, 2010

Oh, and if the professor says "come to class then pay the fine", and the class and the court date for the fine are at the same time, perhaps he misunderstood and thought you were suggesting you had to go to court at some point that day.
posted by davejay at 10:11 PM on September 22, 2010

Does your ticket say in fine print that you can MAIL the fine and proof of ins? All of the tickets I've ever gotten have allowed that, including one for not having my ins card on me.
posted by lemonade at 10:15 PM on September 22, 2010

davejay is right on both counts. Check whether there's any way to get this taken care of without actually coming to court or to move the court date, but if push comes to shove, go to court. If someone at your school raises a stink, bring a copy of the summons to the dean or other responsible official. I can pretty much guarantee that will solve your problem.

Another observation that I haven't seen here: I expect a background check is necessary to obtain a nursing license in California. If warrants or such show up on that, it could make being employable as a nurse far more difficult than missing one class in nursing school would be. I missed the first two classes of one course in law school, got dropped, went to the dean and explained that I had been ill, got reinstated, and passed the bar and was admitted on the first try. I also missed at least one class (albeit in the middle of a term) for jury duty, as I recall. It's not the end of the world.

In short: don't miss a court date, for any reason, ever. It never helps anyone. Except the other party and their counsel, and that doesn't exactly get you ahead. Just the opposite, actually.

posted by tellumo at 10:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

What I did, was called the Judge's office before hand, told of my situation, asked if I could mail in the fine, (Money Order), along with a short letter stating why I couldn't be there. I got the impression that as long as the fine is paid before the court date, all is well. I got the impression all they care about is getting the money! Talk to his office for sure!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:57 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your professor is an ass. Don't bother e-mailing him again. Just go to court and bring him proof that you had to be there, a note from the judge, whatever. If he still gives you a hard time, take it to someone higher in the department.

I am a professor but not your professor. Good luck. Don't mess around with your ticket.
posted by vincele at 3:16 AM on September 23, 2010

In ~18 years of schooling, I've almost never seen anything important happen on the first day of class. Especially the first day at a new school. I'd go to court; you can always check a classmate's notes for the first day later on anyway.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:06 AM on September 23, 2010

I agree that nothing happens the first day of class usually. Unless you need to be a the first day of class to actually make sure you don't get dropped.

Having said that, are you absoultely positive you have to show up to court? When this happened to me, I called the clerk, faxed my proof of insurance, and mailed a check for the fine. I'm sure they were happy not to actually have to see me.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:19 AM on September 23, 2010

Yeah, a lot of schools will drop your ass for not being there on the first day of school, and that might be a factor here.

However, even if you are dropped out of all of your classes, that's probably still better than ending up with an arrest record for this. For the love of god, court comes first.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:29 PM on September 23, 2010

If all the court matter is about is paying money and lodging documents, then phone the court to ask if you must personally attend or whether you can authorize a friend to pay your fine and present your insurance details on your behalf. If no, ask if a lawyer can do it and if yes, engage that lawyer. If you must show up to court personally then do so, get a note from the court, and show up late to class. If they try to drop you from the course, kick up a fuss. You'll have missed maybe three hours of class on the first day. Dropping you would be ridiculous.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2010

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