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Traffic Ticket Glossary

Appeal - An appeal is the act of taking a case to a higher court for review.

Bail - Bail is the financial surety used to procure the release of an arrestee. It is used to ensure that the person appears in court as scheduled. The term bail is also used with traffic violations. In this case, you will be given a dollar figure representing the fees and/or fines that you must pay for the traffic violation. In many cases, traffic tickets can be handled via a "Trial by Written Declaration" where you pay the traffic fine (bail) and mail it in with your paperwork. If you are found not guilty, your bail will be returned to you. If not, the court keeps the bail and updates the record.

Bailiff - A bailiff is a courtroom officer who maintains order in the court and oversees security. In addition, a bailiff handles any documents that need to be handed to the judge.

Guilty - This means that you committed the traffic violation that you were cited for.

Nolo Contendere - This term is used to enter a plea where you neither admit nor deny the charges. It means "I will not contest these charges." When pleading nolo contendere, you may be subject to fines or a sentence as a result. However, this is different from a guilty plea in that your nolo contendere plea may not be used against you in a civil action.

Not Guilty - This term means that you did not commit the traffic violation that you were cited for. Pleading not guilty results means that you will later need to return to traffic court and appear before a judge.

Traffic Citation - When you receive a traffic ticket, you are issued a piece of paper that describes the traffic violations you are accused of. This piece of paper is your traffic citation. It will also list the time and date you must appear in court along with the court's location. Note that you may receive multiple pieces of paper if you have been cited for more than two violations.

Traffic Stop - When you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer and issued a traffic ticket, this act is known as a traffic stop.

Violation - A traffic violation is an infraction of Texas transportation law that the law enforcement officer has cited you for. Traffic tickets can have multiple citations. For example, if you were stopped for speeding and the police officer discovers that you did not have your seatbelt buckled and that you lack insurance, you could be cited for all three violations. Traffic violations are generally either minor (such as illegal turns, speeding, or red light running) or serious (such as aggressive driving or reckless driving). In addition, some serious violations (such as driving under the influence) could lead to arrest.