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Your Day In Criminal Court
Do I Have to Appear in Court?

You will have to appear in court if you have been accused of a misdemeanor[G] or felony[G]. You will also have to appear in court if a warrant[G] has been issued against you. Please report directly to the courtroom to which you have been assigned. Courtroom doors generally open at 8:30 a.m. You should report to the Clerk’s Office for additional information if your name is not listed on the calendar. Please give the clerk any paperwork you have that relates to your case.
What Should I Expect When I Appear?

You must report to the Clerk’s Office by 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday if you need to appear in court on a non-calendared case. Give the clerk with any relevant paperwork/information, such as:
  • Case number
  • Copy of citation
  • Bail/bond receipt
  • Driver’s license number
  • Proof of compliance of a Court order
You may appear in the Clerk’s Office during normal business hours if you:
  • Need your records checked
  • Have already been sentenced
  • Are due to pay a fine or show proof of program completion
  • Are filing motions or have other Court business
If you are requesting information about a defendant who has been brought to Court in custody, please make your inquiry in the Clerk’s Office. Please have available the:
  • Defendant’s name
  • Date of birth
  • Booking number or arresting agency
The following rules are enforced for courtroom appearances:
  • Shirt and shoes are required in the courtroom.
  • Tank tops and T-shirts are NOT allowed in the courtroom.
  • Food, drinks, and gum chewing are NOT allowed in the courtroom.
  • Weapons are NOT allowed in the courthouse.
  • Pagers and cell phones must be turned off.
What Happens If I Do Not Appear in Court?

The Court will issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear in Court as ordered. You may also:
  • Be sentenced to jail regardless of disposition[G] of original charges
  • Be ordered to pay a fine
  • Have issuance or renewal of license withheld by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Have your license suspended or revoked by the DMV for Vehicle Code offences
  • Have additional charges added to your original charges
Will I have to go to Court for an Infraction?

Infractions can be processed in the Clerk’s Office. You may schedule a court date to appear for arraignment hearing[G] and/or court trial [G] if you want to appear before a judge.
What happens if I am arrested and taken into custody?

If you are arrested and taken to jail, there are 3 possible outcomes. You can:
  • Be released with no charges filed
  • Post bail or be released on your own recognizance [G] with a court date scheduled.
  • Remain in custody and be transported to Court to see the judge
Will you need an attorney?

You will need an attorney to act in your best interests. You can be represented by a private attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint one during your arraignment if you qualify. You can be provided legal assistance through:
  • Public Defender's office
  • Alternate Public Defender’s office
  • Other Court-appointed counsel
The Court will make a determination of your ability to pay all or part of the costs of legal assistance. If the Court finds that you can pay then a court order for you to pay the costs can be issued. The Court may also order that you return for additional hearings to determine your ability to pay the costs after your case is concluded.
For information about finding a private attorney, go to the Los Angeles Bar Association website.
For information about Public Defenders, go to the Los Angeles County Public Defender website.
For information about Alternate Public Defenders, go to the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender website.
When will I find out about my court dates?

You may be notified of your court date on your:
  • Citation
  • Cite-out
  • Cash bail receipt
  • Bond receipt
You receive also be notified of your next court appearance during your hearing or trial.
What do I do when I come to court?

You should find for your name, the courtroom location, and the time your case will be heard on the calendar usually posted in or outside the Clerk's Office. If you are unable to find your name or locate a calendar, go to the Clerk's Office.
What do I bring to court?

You should bring any relevant paperwork having to do with your case:
  • Proper identification
    • Driver’s License
    • California ID Card
    • Social Security Card
    • other picture identification
  • Name used when arrested (if different from current name)
  • If cited, bring a copy of the citation
  • Letter from the prosecuting agency or court regarding appearance
  • Copy of bond or cash bail receipt
  • Jail release paperwork
  • Sentencing paperwork relating to your case
    • fine payment slip
    • community service contract
    • any paperwork received while in custody
When appearing in the Clerk’s Office or courtroom, you must properly identify yourself. You should:
  • Use the same name and spelling as listed on your paperwork
  • Tell the Court if the name on the paperwork is incorrect
  • Be prepared to present a picture identification card as proof
How long should I plan to be in Court?

You can expect to be in Court for a substantial portion of the day to take care of all possible matters when you appear as a defendant.
What are the different types of hearings or trials?

A number of hearings or trials can be held during a misdemeanor or felony case.
Hearing or Trial Type What Happens During the Hearing or Trial
Arraignment Hearing During an arraignment hearing you:
  • Have your 1st court appearance
  • Are advised of constitutional rights
  • Are appointed an attorney if unable to afford one
  • Are advised of the nature of the charges against you
  • Enter a guilty[G], not guilty[G] or no contest[G]plea
  • May be released on your own recognizance[G] or the judge sets bail and you are remanded[G] to the custody of the Sheriff
If you are charged with a misdemeanor and plead not guilty to the charges, you must be brought to trial with 30 days of being arraigned if you are in custody, and 45 days if you are on bail or your own recognizance.

If you are charged with a felony and plead not guilty to the charges, your preliminary hearing must be held within 10 days of being arraigned.
Pretrial Hearing During a pretrial hearing:
  • Discovery[G] is exchanged between prosecution and defense
  • Motions may be made to set aside the complaint, to dismiss the case, to suppress evidence, etc.
  • You may change plea to guilty or no contest
Preliminary Hearing During a preliminary hearing, a determination is made if there is sufficient evidence the defendant committed the alleged felony offense. If there is sufficient evidence, the defendant is ”held to answer”[G] otherwise the case is dismissed.

If the defendant is “held to answer”, the prosecutor files an Information document with the court. The defendant must be arraigned on the Information within 15 days of the held to answer date. Trial must be held within 60 days of the date of arraignment on the Information.

Preliminary hearings are held for felony cases
Jury Trial The jury trial includes:
  • Jury selection by the attorneys
  • Witness testimony[G] during the trial
  • Evidence[G] is presented
  • Decision of guilty or not guilty at the end of the trial made by the jury
If the jury finds you are not guilty you:
  • Are released
  • Cannot be retried for the same crime
If the jury finds you are guilty:
  • The case may be continued for sentencing
  • You may be sentenced immediately
Court Trial You may agree to proceed with a court trial instead of a jury trial. During a court trial the judge:
  • Hears the evidence and arguments
  • Decides if the defendant is guilty or not guilty
Court trials may also be called bench trials
Sentencing Hearing A judge will decide your penalty or punishment after hearing from your attorney and the district attorney on their ideas of what should be your sentence. Your sentence can include:
  • Payment of a fine
  • Time in county jail
  • Time in state prison
  • Restitution[G]
  • Probation[G]
  • Alternative sentencing [G]
Post Sentence or
Probation Violation Hearing
You will be told of any modifications or changes to Court orders made after you have been sentenced.
How do I pay my fine?

You can pay your fines in the Clerk’s Office using:
  • Cash
  • Money Order
  • Check
  • Credit Card
Always write your case number on your check or money order to ensure your payment is applied to your case. You can also pay by mail. Please do not mail cash.
You may have an additional penalty assessment[G] added if the Court orders you to pay a fine.
Can I Get an Extension for Fine Payment Or Community Service?

You may request an extension of your fine or community service hours if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor violation. You must make your request to the court on or before the due date of your fine or community service completion.
No extensions can be given over the phone.
Can My Cash Bail Be Applied to My Fine?

Cash bail may be applied to a fine at the time of sentencing if the depositor is the defendant or a third party who signed the bail receipt giving the Court permission to do so at the time of deposit. If the bail amount is refunded, allow 4-6 weeks processing time for the depositor to receive the refund. Checks are issued from the Auditor-Controller's Office in Los Angeles.
You will need to contact the Clerk’s office if you do not receive your refund after six weeks. When you contact the clerk’s office, you should have the:
  • Defendant's name
  • Bail amount
  • Case number
  • Receipt number
What Happens If I Do Not Pay My Fine?

The Court may issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to pay a fine as ordered. If you fail to pay your fine without good cause, you may also:
  • Be sentenced to jail regardless of disposition[G] of original charges
  • Have an additional fine added to your original fine
Can I Appeal the Decision?

You can file an appeal[G] of a decision made by the Criminal Court. Your appeal is a review of the record of trial and the decision for legal errors.
An appeal is not a new trial.
You must file your appeal within a set number of days from the date of the judgment or order. The deadline for filing an appeal cannot be extended.
Case Type File Appeal No More Than
Infraction 30 days of date of judgment or order
Misdemeanor 30 days of date of judgment or order
Felony 60 days of date of judgment or order
You can read Information on Appeal Procedures for Infractions (CR-141-INFO) or Information on Appeal Procedures for Misdemeanors (CR-131-INFO) for a general overview of the appeals process.
For more information about filing an appeal and the forms listed above, go to the California Courts website.
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