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Change of Venue

In California if you live or work closer to the county seat than to the court which would normally have jurisdiction, you may demand a change of venue to the county seat per California Vehicle Code section 40502(b).

40502. The place specified in the notice to appear shall be any of the following:


(b) Upon demand of the person arrested, before a judge or other magistrate having jurisdiction of the offense at the county seat of the county in which the offense is alleged to have been committed. This subdivision applies only if the person arrested resides, or the person's principal place of employment is located, closer to the county seat than to the court or other magistrate nearest or most accessible to the place where the arrest is made.

The ideal time to make the demand is before the officer writes the ticket, but you may legally make the demand any time before signing the ticket. (When an LA County deputy refused to give Geo. McCalip a change of venue, Geo. signed the ticket, "40502(b) Under Protest Geo. McCalip." This forced the judge in Compton to reassign the case to LA Metro (downtown LA), where the case was dismissed at arraignment).

The court has held that once you make the demand, if you meet the residency or employment qualification, the jurisdiction shifts to the court at the county seat (Smith v. Glendale Municipal Court, 167 CalApp2d 534).

While this can work in your favor (if, for instance you are stopped in the North end of the Antelope Valley, far away from LA), it can also work against you. The officer can send the ticket to any court in the county seat (e.g., San Pedro or West LA instead of Van Nuys or LA Metro) per People v. Beltran, 124 CalApp 3d 335.

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