Pre-paying a Ticket
In Virginia, some offenses require you to come to court and other offenses are pre-payable, meaning you can pay the ticket in advance of the court date and avoid coming to court. It should be noted that pre-paying a ticket will result in you being found guilty of that offense. If your offense is pre-payable and you decide that you want to just pay the ticket and avoid coming to court, you must send the total amount of the fine and court costs to the court, and it should be received by the court several working days in advance of your scheduled trial date. The police officer may have provided you with a list of the most common pre-payable offenses, and if that information was not provided to you, you may call the Virginia court listed on your summons and inquire about pre-paying your ticket. If your offense is pre-payable, they should be able to tell you the correct amount you need to pay.
Coming to Court
In Virginia, if you elect not to pre-pay your ticket, or if your offense is not pre-payable, it is very important that you come to court on the date and at the time on your summons. Failure to do so may trigger one or more of the following consequences:
You will lose any bond money you have posted for your release.
You may by tried in your absence and found guilty.
You may receive the maximum penalty allowed.
Your license to drive may be suspended.
You may have an arrest warrant issued for Failure to Appear and when arrested on that warrant, you may be held in jail.
Parking is often difficult when coming to court because parking is limited around most courthouses in Virginia and frequently requires a fee. You should allow enough time to find a place to park, walk to the courthouse and still arrive in advance of the time you were instructed to be there. In Virginia, you cannot know whether your case will be the first one called or the last one called and you don’t want to risk having your case called before you arrive.
In addition to possible delays due to traffic and parking, you should allow extra time to pass through the security stations when entering the courthouse. Most courthouses in Virginia require people submit to some sort of search and screening process before entering the courthouse, and many use metal detectors which, just like at the airport, can cause quite a backup and delay your entry into the courthouse for several minutes. No weapons, cameras or camera phones are allowed in Virginia courthouses, and in many jurisdictions, no cells phones are allowed in the courthouse. Security personnel will not hold your prohibited items for you so if you have something with you which you can’t take into the courthouse you will have to walk all the way back to your car to drop it off.