Many citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. The method of payment differs for each municipality. Some allow you to pay online or by credit card. Others accept only checks or cash. You will have to check with the concerned municipality.
If you wish to dispute the citation, you must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. If you are unable to attend on that day, you will need to inform the court five days in advance. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court.
If you plead "no contest", you will have a chance to explain the sequence of events to the judge as you think they occurred. Even if you are found guilty of the offense, this might help to lessen the fine you are asked to pay.
Some violations which require a mandatory court appearance include driving when your license has been suspended, driving without a license, not showing proof of financial responsibility, child restraint violation, driving 35 miles or more per hour, over the speed limit and passing a school bus that children are getting onto or getting off.
You will also have to appear in court if you are requested to do so by the court or a police officer. If you are under 18 years of age, a guardian/parent will have to accompany you, unless you are guilty of a seat belt offense.