On the day of trial, be sure to arrive on time and confirm the exact time with your attorney a day or so beforehand. While there is no required dress code for civilians, I would recommend a business casual ensemble. Traffic court (and any court for that matter) is not the same as laying out by the pool or doing yardwork. You want to dress to impress, for lack of a better phrase. While you certainly do not have to wear a full business suit and tie like we attorneys do, I will never discourage that.
When you arrive at court, you will want to locate your attorney so that you can check in with the court. Depending on location, checking in may be accomplished either at the violations bureau window or in the courtroom itself.
At this point, your attorney will speak to the prosecutor regarding your case. The prosecutor may be stationed at counsel table in front of the bench, or the prosecutor may be in a conference room outside of the courtroom. In any event, remain seated in the gallery until your attorney is finished talking with the prosecutor. If you need to use the restroom or make a phone call, now would be the time to do so, provided you have checked in with the court first.
When your attorney has finished talking with the prosecutor, several things can happen. First, the prosecutor may have offered a plea to a reduced charge, which may carry less or no points, a lower fine, or some combination thereof. Your attorney will explain what the offer is, and you will have the ability to either accept that offer or reject it. The plea bargaining process may take some time, so be advised that you may not be in and out of court as quickly as you would like. If no agreement can be reached, the matter will be marked for trial, which will likely take place on a later date, to allow both sides to prepare adequately for trial. You will still need to place this on the record, so you cannot leave just yet. The same applies if an adjournment is requested to obtain further discovery or to secure the appearance of a necessary party (usually a police officer or a complaining witness). In rare instances, the prosecutor may recommend dismissal of the charges outright. Again, this will need to be placed on the record. So regardless of how your case shakes out, you will need to appear and speak before the judge.
Be sure to stand up when the judge enters the courtroom. This will usually be predicated by a police officer or court administrator requesting that "ALL RISE." The judge will take his or her seat on the bench, and will deliver some opening remarks, usually relating to court policy, your rights as a defendant, and any special concerns that the judge wishes to raise.
By court rule, attorney matters are given precedence, as we attorneys often have different courts to appear in throughout the day. When your case is called, proceed to counsel table with your attorney in a quick but controlled matter. Your attorney will do most of the talking, depending on the disposition of the case on this particular day. If you are pleading to a lesser included offense as part of a plea bargain, the judge will ask you a series of questions to determine if you are pleading guilty and giving up your right to trial knowingly, voluntarily, and without being coerced to do so. The judge or your attorney will then ask you questions to establish a factual basis for the plea, which usually are whether you committed the offense on the date in question in the municipality. After the judge is satisfied that a factual basis for the plea exists, he or she will then explain the fines and penalties, and your attorney will give any relevant mitigating factors before the judge imposes sentence.
Once the judge has imposed his or her sentence, your case will have concluded and you will be released from the courtroom. If your attorney has other matters, he may ask you to wait outside until he is finished. When your attorney is ready, you will proceed to the violations bureau window to pay your fine. Pay close attention to what methods of payment are accepted in the municipality. Some courts do not accept credit or debit cards. If you need additional time to pay the fine in total, you may make that application before you are released by the judge. Again, every court is different. Some judges may give you a reasonable period of time in which to pay the fine, others may require you to enter into a "time payment" or "Tpay," which requires a separate application where you outline your financial circumstances. Be advised that you will be held to this arrangement if approved, and you may face license suspension if you default on a time payment.
When you have paid your fine and obtained a receipt, you are free to depart the courtroom. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the results obtained that day, you have a 20-day period to appeal the sentence. A competent attorney should minimize the chances that you are dissatisfied, however.