Marin County is no stranger to the bail bonds business. Being one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, Marin County Bail Bonds are common. Luna Bail Bonds is proud to serve Marin County, one of the greatest and most beautiful counties in California.

Marin County  is a county located in the North San Francisco Bay Area of the State of California, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco County. As of 2010, its population was about 252,400. Its county seat is San Rafael and its largest employer is the county government. Marin County is well known for its natural beauty, liberal politics, and affluence. In May 2009, Marin County had the fifth highest income per capita in the United States at about $91,480. The county is governed the Marin County Board of Supervisors.


Cases Filed in the Criminal Clerk’s Office

The Criminal Clerk’s Office files, processes, and maintains misdemeanor and felony records for cases filed by the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and other prosecuting agencies.

Most of the contact that defendants have with the Court outside of the courtroom is handled in the Criminal Clerk’s Office. Once cases have been sentenced by the Court and defendants have been placed on probation, they are often ordered to pay fines, perform community service work, and attend activities such as batterers’ or drunk driving programs. Payments of criminal fines and proof of completion of programs are submitted in the Criminal Clerk’s Office.

Legal Representation in Criminal Proceedings

California law mandates that all defendants in criminal hearings are entitled to legal representation. Many defendants retain the services of attorneys and pay those attorneys privately. For defendants who cannot afford private attorneys, the Court will appoint attorneys through the Office of the Public Defender or an indigent defense panel of attorneys called Alternate Defender’s Inc. The Court will appoint counsel at the first hearing for any defendant who needs representation. Once attorneys are appointed, defendants will be required to complete financial screening forms to determine whether they are financially eligible for indigent defense services.

Criminal Research Requests

Cases filed with the Criminal Clerk’s Office may be available for review by the public in the Court’s Records Management Office in Room 113 of the Civic Center. Please click here for information on how to request a case record or register of actions for viewing and copying.

There is a $15 fee for each case when research must be performed by court staff. Please include a check made payable to Marin County Superior Court and send it to: Criminal Research, P.O. Box 4988, San Rafael, CA 94913. If requesting copies or other records-related services in addition to research, such as certification or exemplification of documents in case files, please review the amounts of these additional fees on the Court’s Fee Schedule by clicking here. Then submit a check to the Court stating a “Not To Exceed” amount in the memo section of the check that allows for the cost of the research and any other records-related fees. Court staff will fill in the actual amount of the check once it is determined.

Copies and Certifications of Criminal Records Requested by Government Agencies

The Court charges all government agencies for copies and certifications of criminal records, pursuant to Government Code section 70633(b). The charge to certify a record is $25.00 (GC 70626(a)(4)) and the charge for copies is $.50 per page (GC 70627(a)). In addition, the Court will require requesting agencies to include a self-addressed stamped envelope with proper postage for the return of the complete copy work. Since most requesting agencies will not know ahead of time how many pages will be copied, they may obtain a quote from the Court. Once the requesting agency receives the quote and remits payment to the Court, the copies and certifications will be processed.

Please make requests for criminal records by completing form RM012 – Government Agency – Criminal Records Request and emailing it to courtrecords@marincourt.org or calling (415) 444-7080 or sending a written request to the Court.

Phone: (415) 444-7070
Email: criminal@marincourt.org
Location: Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room C-10
Office Hours: 8:00am – 3:00pm

The Criminal Clerk’s Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except holidays. The office is located on the Court Floor of the Marin County Civic Center Hall of Justice in Room C-10. For directions to the Civic Center, please click here.
The Marin County Civic Center has three drive-though arches. From the middle arch lobby only, take the elevator to the “C” floor. After passing through security screening, go left to the end of the hall to Room C-10. For individuals wishing to speak with a clerk in this office, please call (415) 444-7070 between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Calls are answered in the order received. Since these phone lines are very busy, the best times to call are early afternoons.

The mailing address is:

Marin County Superior Court
Criminal Clerk’s Office
P.O. Box 4988
San Rafael, CA 94913-4988

Interpreter Services

The Criminal Clerk’s Office has several Spanish speaking clerks to assist the public. Some forms related to criminal proceedings are also available for review in Spanish.

In criminal hearings, interpreters are available in all languages in the courtroom to assist non-English speakers and to ensure that defendants understand the criminal charges they are facing and consequences at every stage of the court proceedings.

Understanding the Criminal Court Process

Cases processed in the criminal court proceed through several stages. Some of the terminology and reasons for various hearings may be confusing to defendants. To better understand the stages of a typical misdemeanor case, please click here.

Legal Assistance with Cases Filed in the Criminal Clerk’s Office

There are resources available to help individuals in understanding criminal court processes or preparing to go to court. Some of these resources include:

  • California Courts Online Self Help Center. This resource is available to all Californians who are representing themselves in court or need legal information. To access this website, please click here.


Marin County Traffic Court

Resolve your citations online or by phone. It’s easy and convenient!

Individuals with traffic or minor infraction citations can resolve these cases any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online access is available here. Phone access is available by calling (415) 444-7180.

These systems are user-friendly and will prompt an individual making an inquiry to enter a case number, citation number or driver’s license number plus his or her date of birth to retrieve information about infraction cases pending before the court. The public can use these systems to:

  • Locate and review basic information about citations pending before the court
  • Pay infraction fines and fees
  • Set up payment plans and view future payment dates
  • Sign up and pay for traffic violator school
  • Review traffic violator school completion due dates
  • Post bail when setting up a contested court trial date
  • Check scheduled court dates
  • Get a one-time 30-day extension to pay the fine or to appear in court
  • Obtain a one-time 30-day extension to complete traffic violator school

Citations and Notices

The Court files citations received from all Marin County law enforcement agencies including local police departments, animal control, parks, open space, and fish and game agencies, as well as Marin County citations from the California Highway Patrol. When an individual is cited by a law enforcement officer for a traffic, local ordinance, animal control or other violation, the original citation is delivered to the Court for processing. Please note that the Court does NOT handle parking citations. For information on how to take care of these citations, please click here.

Once the Court receives the original citation from the law enforcement agency, it creates a court docket of the citation and generates and mails a courtesy notice to the person who was cited. This courtesy notice will contain the amount due (called the ‘bail’); the deadline to appear in court without additional penalties; information regarding traffic violator school eligibility; and, for any correctable citation (sometimes called a ‘fix it’ ticket), the requirements needed to clear the citation. For more information on traffic violator school eligibility, attendance and procedures for showing proof of completion, please click here. For more information on the procedures to resolve correctable citations for vehicle registration, insurance or equipment repairs, please click here.

Most citations can be resolved without ever appearing in court, by paying the bail or paying the bail along with requesting traffic violator school or providing proof of correction. A small number of citations require individuals to appear in court. The courtesy notices for these citations will have the words “Mandatory Appearance” on them. Individuals with these citations must appear in court. For information on the requirements for mandatory appearances, please click here.

It can take from a few days to several weeks for the courtesy notice to be mailed. This is because some law enforcement agencies deliver their citations to the Court frequently (more often than once a week) while others deliver them only a few times per month. The Court cannot quote bail or give you information regarding your citation until it is received from the police agency.

The law enforcement officer enters a date, called the ‘promise to appear’ date, on the citation, approximately three weeks from the date of the citation. This date is very important, as individuals who fail to contact the Court by that date may be subject to sanctions and penalties in excess of the amount they would owe on their citations and their driving privileges may be affected.

Individuals are responsible for contacting the Court, by phone or in person, by the promise to appear date on their citations, whether or not they have received their courtesy notices in the mail.

Individuals who do not respond to the courtesy notice by the due date will receive a ‘final notice – failure to appear’ giving them one final opportunity to resolve their citations before penalties and court sanctions are imposed. Individuals may request a one-time extension of time to pay the bail by contacting the court in person or by phone. The request must be made on or before the due date.

For individuals who disregard all notices from the Court or who make arrangements to pay the bail or appear in court but do not fulfill these requirements, the Court will impose additional penalties and sanctions. In addition to significant increases in the bail amount, such as a $300 civil assessment, individuals may also have their drivers’ licenses and registrations placed on hold with the Department of Motor Vehicles and will be referred to a collection agency. For information about the collection agency that handles delinquent citations, please click here. For more information about the additional penalties and court sanctions that may result from failing to resolve citations by the deadline, please click here.

Options to Resolve Citations

There are five ways to take care of citations:

  1. Pay the full amount on the courtesy or final notice on or before the due date (unless the courtesy notice stated that a mandatory appearance is required.) Payments, and payments with requests for traffic violator school, may be made in person, by phone or by mail. If individuals must show proof of vehicle registration or insurance or proof that an equipment violation has been fixed, these issues can be handled by mail or in person. More information on payment options is available by clicking here.
  2. Pay the full amount on the courtesy or final notice in installments of up to 12 months, with a minimum monthly payment of $50. There is a $35 administrative fee to set up an installment plan. These installment plans do not require individuals to go to court to request time to pay; they can be set up by court staff in the Clerk’s Office.
  3. Request that all or a portion of the bail be converted to community service work. The Court has a community service work program for individuals who cannot afford to pay the bail on their citations. To be eligible to perform community service work, individuals must meet certain financial qualifications. To inquire about community service work, individuals must come to the court to complete a declaration regarding their household income and expenses. The court will then determine eligibility for community service work. Court staff can provide timesheets and information on community service work agencies. For those individuals who do not meet the financial qualifications to perform community service work, they may opt to set up a payment plan to pay the bail in monthly installments. For more information on this option, please click here.
  4. Appear in court and plead not guilty by the deadline indicated on the citation or courtesy notice. Individuals who wish to contest their citations may schedule a court trial at the Traffic Clerk’s Office. The law enforcement officer who wrote the citation will be subpoenaed to appear at the trial. For more information about scheduling a court trial, please click here.
  5. Request a trial by written declaration and plead not guilty by appearing in person at the Traffic Clerk’s Office or by writing to the Court to request this kind of a trial. Individuals often choose this option if they live far away from the Court. For more information on this option, please click here.

Court Penalties and Sanctions for Failing to Appear, Failing to Pay, or Failing to Comply with Court Processes or Orders

The Court will impose significant monetary penalties and court sanctions on individuals who do not:

  • Pay the bail or appear in court by the deadline on the courtesy and final notices;
  • Make monthly installment payments, as promised by the individual at the time a payment plan agreement is signed;
  • Perform community service work by the deadline, as directed by the Court and as promised by the individual;
  • Comply with all court orders after going to court, such as paying the fine in one amount or in installments by a due date established by the Court, completing community service work by the due date established by the Court, providing proof of correctable violations, and other orders as determined by the Court;

When individuals are cited for California Vehicle Code violations, the Court will notify Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to place a hold on the drivers’ licenses and vehicle registrations of individuals who fail to comply with court processes and orders. These holds will not be removed until violators resolve their underlying traffic cases.

  • For those individuals who fail to pay or appear by the deadline on the notices, the Court will impose a failure to appear charge and notify DMV to issue holds on license and/or registration. For more information, please click here.
  • For those violators who have pled guilty or been found guilty after a court trial or trial by written declaration and have failed to pay or comply with court orders, the Court will add failure to pay or comply charges and notify DMV to issue holds on license and/or registration. For more information, please click here.
  • The Court will also add a $300 civil assessment and other monetary sanctions to the amount due and refer delinquent traffic cases to a collection agency, Enhanced Court Collections (ECC). ECC will contact individuals to enforce the Court’s orders. ECC has many tools available to collect delinquent fines including setting up payment plans with significant consequences to individuals if they do not comply with these arrangements such as negative credit reporting, wage garnishment and seizure of assets like money in bank accounts.
  • For more information about ECC, please click here.

Legal Assistance with cases filed in the Traffic Clerk’s Office

There are resources available to help individuals in understanding traffic court processes or preparing to go to court. Some of these resources include:

  • California Courts Online Self Help Center. This resource is available to all Californians who are representing themselves in court. To access this website, please click here.
  • Marin County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service, located at 30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 140, San Rafael. The telephone number is (415) 499-1813. For more information, please click here.

Phone: (415) 444-7180
Email: traffic@marincourt.org
Address:
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, California 94903
Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room C-10
Office Hours: 8:00am – 3:00pm

The Traffic Clerk’s Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except holidays. The office is located on the Court Floor of the Marin County Civic Center Hall of Justice in Room C-10. For directions to the Civic Center, please click here.

The Marin County Civic Center has three drive-though arches. From the middle arch lobby only, take the elevator to the “C” floor. After passing through security screening, go left to the end of the hall to Room C-10. For individuals wishing to speak with a clerk in this office, please call (415) 444-7180 between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Calls are answered in the order received.

The mailing address is:

Marin County Superior Court – Traffic
P.O. Box 4988
San Rafael, CA 94913-4988

Spanish Language Services

The Traffic Clerk’s Office has several Spanish speaking clerks to assist the public and some forms are also available for review in Spanish. In court hearings, there is usually a Spanish language interpreter in the courtroom to assist non-English speakers at these hearings.


Marin County Juvenile Court

Juvenile Court routinely hears two types of cases

  • Dependency cases
  • Delinquency cases

Minors who commit drug and alcohol related offenses may be eligible for Juvenile Drug Court. More information on this program is provided below.

Juvenile Court Information

The California Welfare and Institutions Code, starting at section 300, sets forth the legal requirements, process and objectives for Dependency Court. Dependency matters are filed with the Court when there are reports that children have been abandoned, abused or neglected by their parent(s) or legal guardian. These cases are also filed with the Court when parents or legal guardians are unable or unwilling to care for their children. For more information about parents’ rights in Dependency Court, please click here.

While the desired outcome of these cases is to reunite children with their families or caregivers, if the Court determines that this is not possible, the children may be temporarily placed in foster care or a guardian may be appointed by the Court. Ultimately, if the Court determines that the children cannot be reunited with their families, the parents’ or legal guardian’s rights to the children may be terminated and the children may become eligible for permanent adoption.

Other agencies typically involved in dependency proceedings include the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Social Services Division; Marin County Counsel; and attorneys from the Office of the Public Defender, Family and Children’s Law Center, Legal Aid of Marin and private law firms. The Court appoints legal counsel for most parties in Dependency Court.

The objectives of Dependency Court are to:

  1. Protect the health and safety of minor children;
  2. Preserve families, whenever possible;
  3. Provide placement of children with a relative, foster family, group home or an adoptive parent if it is determined to be in their best interest.
The California Welfare and Institutions Code sets forth the legal requirements, procedures and objectives for Delinquency Court. Delinquency matters described in Welfare and Institutions Code section 601 include offenses such as school truancy, runaways, behavior beyond parental control, and other ‘incorrigible’ behavior. Very few of these matters are filed in Delinquency Court, as they are typically handled in other venues, like school truancy hearings.

The Welfare and Institutions Code, starting at section 602, describes the Court’s jurisdiction over misdemeanors and felonies committed by minors (persons under 18 years of age.) For certain serious crimes, the law currently provides the possibility of trying juveniles as adults in the Adult Criminal Court.

Parents or guardians have the right to receive a copy of the delinquency petition, stating the delinquent acts the child is accused of committing. The petition does not prove that the minor committed these acts and there will be opportunities at court hearings to present evidence regarding the minor’s involvement in the alleged criminal acts.

For those who cannot afford legal representation for their children, the Court will appoint an attorney. Please note that this attorney represents the child only and will not represent the parents or guardians.

The objectives of the Delinquency Court are to:

  1. Protect the minor;
  2. Give guidance to the minor;
  3. Punish minors who commit delinquent acts, and;
  4. Ensure the safety of the community.

If a minor becomes a ward of the Delinquency Court, the Court will make orders for the parents or guardians and the minor. The minor may be allowed to live in the parents’ or guardians’ home under Court supervision or may be placed outside of the home in an unlocked or locked facility. The factors that the Court will consider in making this determination include the child’s age, the seriousness of the offense, and the history of delinquency.

The Court may also order the minor to:

  1. Perform community service work;
  2. Attend programs geared to assisting minors in making better life choices (on topics such as \ drug, alcohol, smoking and safe driving) and;
  3. Complete other activities that the Court determines will instruct minors on leading law abiding lives.
The Marin County Juvenile Drug Court Program is an intensive, Court-supervised counseling and treatment program for eligible minors who have law violations and substance abuse problems. It is designed to give youthful offenders an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and change their lives.

The Drug Court Team includes the Judge, Deputy Probation Officer, Deputy District Attorney, Deputy Public Defender, and treatment providers.

Drug Court requires regular meetings with a probation officer, participation in self-help programs, drug treatment, counseling, UA tests, and regular court appearances. Upon successful completion of Drug Court, all charges are dismissed and the minor’s file can be sealed.

As stated by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, “The rapid expansion of drug courts can be traced to one basic factor: they work. Their value can be measured in the lives of kids and families who have been helped to escape the cycle of drugs and failure, and whose lives might otherwise have ended in disease, incarceration, broken families, or even death.”

For a description of Juvenile Drug Court, how the program works and what is required of participants and their families, please click here to see the Juvenile Drug Court Participant Handbook.

For a sample of homework performed by Juvenile Drug Court participants, please click here and click here to see sample writing.

To enroll a youth or obtain further information, please contact the Juvenile Probation Department at at 415-499-6659.

  1. Keep your eyes open; watch for signs of drug and alcohol abuse in your family.
  2. Develop healthy family communication so your teens know that they can talk to you about anything.
  3. Set limits and consistently enforce them. This makes it easier for teens to say “NO” when pressured by peers.
  4. Help your teens feel good about themselves; build up their self-esteem with support, praise, and love so they respect themselves and want to reach for their dreams.
  5. Serve as a good role model. If you have a substance abuse problem, get help for yourself.
  6. Help teens to make wise decisions based upon their own beliefs. Encourage them to say “NO” and avoid unhealthy situations.
  7. Encourage teens to choose positive friendships.
  8. Give teens the support they need to do their best in school.
  9. Help teens deal with failure so they learn to cope without wanting to escape with drugs or alcohol.
  10. If you suspect drug or alcohol abuse, talk to your teen about your concerns. Even if he or she is not using drugs, it helps you know your teen’s attitudes and also explains your own position. Good communication is the best way to help teens avoid drug and alcohol abuse.

For more information on how to help minors deal with drug and alcohol problems, contact:

  • Your local school counselor or drug coordinator;
  • The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Programs at (415) 499-3030 or by clicking here;
  • The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service at (800) 662-4357.
My child was arrested and taken into custody. Where was my child taken?

Your child was most likely taken to Marin County Juvenile Hall at 16 Jeannette Prandi Way in San Rafael. The phone number is (415) 499-6705.

Does my child need an attorney?

Yes. Your child has a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney for your child, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent him or her.

Do I, as a parent, need an attorney?

No, not usually. But please note that if your child has an attorney, the attorney represents your child and not you. To find out more about whether you need an attorney to represent you, please contact:

Legal Self Help Services
Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room C-27,
San Rafael, CA. 94903
Phone: (415) 444-7130

Legal Aid of Marin
30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 220
San Rafael, CA. 94903
Phone: (415) 492-0230
http://www.legalaidmarin.org/

Marin County Bar Association, Lawyer’s Referral Service
30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 140
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: (415) 499-1314
http://www.marinbar.org

Will I be required to pay the costs associated with my child’s legal fees and probation and detention services?

Yes. Unless you were the victim of your child’s crime, you will receive a bill from the County of Marin for various fees, including your child’s attorney’s fees; probation department services fees (such as food and laundry while your child was in Juvenile Hall); and placement costs for keeping your child in a state placement such as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), a probation camp, or an out-of-home placement. These services may be expensive. You will have a chance to show how much, if any, of these costs you are able to pay. The Delinquency Court does not make this determination; it is made by a Financial Hearing Officer in the Marin County Treasurer’s Office, Central Collections Division. You must contact this office to begin the process of determining your ability to pay for your child’s fees, probation and detention services. Contact information for this office is available by clicking here.

What hearings will my child attend in juvenile delinquency court?

You and your child will be required to attend all hearings, unless your appearance is specifically waived by your child’s attorney. The hearings include:

  • Detention Hearing or Arraignment Hearing:If your child is detained in Juvenile Hall for more than 48 hours, there will be a detention hearing within 72 hours, counting only court business days. The purposes of the detention hearing are for the judicial officer to:
    1. Decide whether your child can go home before the next hearing,
    2. Appoint an attorney for your child if you cannot afford one, and
    3. Read the petition containing the charges against your child into the court record.

If your child was arrested, but was not detained in Juvenile Hall, you will receive notice of an arraignment hearing in the mail.

  • Pre-Trial Hearing: A pre-trial hearing will occur the day before trial to allow the parties in the matter to either resolve the case or to advise the Court that they are ready to proceed to trial.
  • Jurisdiction Hearing: At the jurisdiction hearing, the judicial officer will decide whether or not your child committed the offense.
  • Disposition Hearing: A disposition hearing is similar to a sentencing hearing in adult court. If the judicial officer finds that your child committed the offense, then at the disposition hearing the judicial officer will make orders that you and your child must abide by to resolve your child’s delinquency case. Sometimes the disposition hearing is held right after the jurisdiction hearing, on the same day. Otherwise, it is held ten days after the jurisdiction hearing.

In addition to the above hearings, you and your child may be required to attend any of the following hearings:

  • Early Resolution Hearing: A court appearance is scheduled to try to resolve the matter prior to trial.
  • Hearings on Motions: There may be court appearances for the Court to hear additional issues that come up before the underlying case is resolved.
  • Fitness Hearing: If your child is at least 14 years old and is charged with committing certain serious crimes, the District Attorney may ask the Juvenile Court to make a decision on whether your child should be tried as an adult. At the fitness hearing, the judicial officer will decide whether your child will be tried in adult court or in juvenile court. (Note: Effective March 2000, a law was enacted giving the District Attorney authority in some instances to directly file complaints in adult court against minors 14 years of age and older who commit certain serious crimes.)
  • Review Hearings: In some cases, the law or the Court may set hearings to review your child’s progress and performance under supervision provided by the Probation Department, Juvenile Services Division.
  • Restitution Hearing: If the Court so orders, you and your child may have to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is money to compensate the victim for losses caused by your child’s unlawful conduct. Examples of restitution might include the value of stolen or damaged property, medical expenses, and lost wages.

My child got a traffic citation. The officer wrote a hearing date on the bottom of the citation. What do we do?

Juvenile traffic infractions and non-traffic infractions are now being handled just like adult traffic violations. Please wait for the Court to send you a courtesy notice and follow the instructions provided on that notice. If your child’s traffic violation was more serious, and was cited as a misdemeanor, Marin County Probation Department, Juvenile Services Division will contact you regarding when you and your child must appear to adjudicate this matter.

How do I seal my child’s juvenile record?

Contact the Marin County Probation Department, Juvenile Services Division to get an application to seal a juvenile record. Once the application is received, it can take up to ten months to complete the sealing process.

Juvenile Traffic and Other Infractions

Minors cited for traffic violations and other non-traffic related infractions will receive a courtesy notice from the Court. This courtesy notice will provide information on how to take care of these matters. Typically, minors may either post and forfeit their bail (the fine plus penalty assessments and other fees) or appear in court by the due date on the notice. For more information about traffic and minor offenses, please click here.

Juvenile Traffic Misdemeanors

Minors cited for more serious traffic violations will be required to meet with the Probation Department, Juvenile Services Division. For more information about Juvenile Probation, please click here.

Overview

Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over court related matters for minors (persons under 18 years of age.) Individuals may also be ordered to appear in Juvenile Court after the age of 18, if they are charged with a crime committed before they turned 18 years old.

California law mandates that juvenile proceedings and records are strictly confidential. These proceedings and records cannot be viewed by anyone other than the parties involved in the case. In rare instances, parties may petition the Court to disclose juvenile records. Unless there is an order from the Juvenile Court authorizing disclosure of juvenile records, no such public access is permitted.


Marin County Legal Self Help

Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. To allow yourself enough time to receive assistance from the staff, and to complete your paperwork, please arrive at their office no later than 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Legal Self Help Services (LSHS) provides free assistance to those who do not have attorneys. Due to the high volume of court users, services are provided in person only on a first-come, first-served basis. LSHS does not provide services by phone or by appointment. LSHS’ primary goal is to provide vital self-help services to underserved Marin residents, such as low-income litigants and non-English or bilingual/bicultural residents with legal issues. Services include: intake, information and referral to legal services partners in the Justice Center; individual assistance with legal document preparation; bilingual assistance and legal reference materials for non-English speakers; assistance in conducting self-guided legal research; and coordination of volunteers and interns who provide direct customer services.

LSHS offers one-on-one assistance to self-represented litigants. All staff members are bilingual. LSHS utilizes a variety of web-based tools, available in multiple languages, to help litigants prepare their legal documents. There are numerous self-help resources in easy-to-understand legal publications and on the internet for Californians. LSHS maintains a library of written resources, such as Nolo Press books, that can explain complex processes in layperson’s language.

Staff are also available to provide information on how to file various kinds of legal documents, serve opposing parties, and explain court procedures and legal terminology, as well as giving the public tips on how to prepare for and what to bring to court appearances.

Primary Areas of Legal Assistance are:

  • Child Custody & Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Small Claims
  • Divorce/Dissolutions
  • Domestic Violence
  • Guardianship
  • Harassment Restraining Orders
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Mediation
  • Name Changes
  • Paternity

Legal Self Help Resources Available on the Internet

Over the past several years, numerous legal self-help programs have become available over the Internet. Several California law web-based tools are available at LSHS or may be accessed from any location. Here are links to some of the tools used in the LSHS:

California Courts Self Help Center – This is the Judicial Council of California’s self help services website. Information is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese. This tool provides assistance with family law, small claims, domestic violence, elder issues, traffic matters, evictions, bankruptcy, conservatorships, guardianships and many more types of cases. Click here

I-Can! Legal California – This tool, developed by Legal Aid Society of Orange County offers legal document preparation assistance in English, Spanish and Vietnamese in such areas as divorce, small claims, civil harassment, domestic violence, evictions, name changes, paternity, fee waivers, child custody, child support and guardianships. Click here

Overview and History of Legal Self Help in Marin

For six years, legal self help services were provided by the Legal Self Help Center of Marin, Inc. (LSHC), a local non-profit organization. LSHC was conceived and launched by the Court and numerous legal services providers and community partners, in response to the need for improved public access to justice, especially for those who were self-representing in court. Over the course of those years, tens of thousands of people received legal information, help with document preparation and court procedures, and referrals to a network of agencies available to assist them with their legal issues. Because of the dramatic decline in public funding and the general state of the economy in 2008 and 2009, LSHC was unable to sustain its operations and autonomy as a non-profit agency. In recognition of the important and valuable community service provided by LSHC, the Board of Directors decided to dissolve the non-profit and transition these services under the administrative umbrella of the Court. 


Marin County Restraining Orders

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE may occur in many forms between two people in an intimate relationship. Physical violence includes kicking, punching, shoving, slapping or any action that hurts your body. Sexual violence includes unwelcome touching, fondling or forced intimacy. Emotional violence includes using coercion, threats or anger to create a controlling and fearful relationship.

There are four types of restraining orders:

  1. Domestic Violence
  2. Civil Harassment
  3. Elder or Dependent Abuse
  4. Workplace Violence

IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 911. During hours that the Court is closed, a law enforcement officer can obtain an Emergency Protective Order which lasts from 5 to 7 days. If you are not in immediate danger but need protection from harm or harassment, you may apply for a temporary restraining order. If the person from whom you are seeking protection is undocumented, you may want to discuss this issue with one of the agencies listed below.

If you need counseling, emergency shelter, help with requesting your restraining order, or someone to accompany you to court, you may contact one of the following agencies for assistance:

To determine whether you may be at risk for a potentially dangerous domestic violence incident, please click here to use a LETHALITY RISK SELF ASSESSMENT AND SAFETY PLANNING GUIDE.

(You may need this free reader Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print the guide.)

There is NO FILING FEE to apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. You may apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if you have been the victim of any of the following:

AND

You have, or have had, a close personal relationship with the party you are asking to have restrained. Under the law, a relationship is defined as “close” if at least one of the following is true, Luna Bail Bonds Marin County thinks that a restraining order might be a good preventative measure:

You may apply to the Court for an order restraining a person from all contact with you, your children, and other family members; from living in the residence; and to stay away from you, your home, your vehicle, your place of employment, and the children’s school and/or place of child care.

THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDER FORMS. All forms are available from the Civil Clerk’s Office.

You may also access the forms on line at http://www.courts.ca.gov. Restraining order forms are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean.

For help filling out the forms, please contact:

  • Legal Self Help Services, Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room C-27, San Rafael, (415) 444-7130
  • Family and Children’s Law Center, 30 North San Pedro Rd, Suite 245, San Rafael, (415) 492-9230.

To apply for a restraining order, please complete the forms available from the links above. An applicant for a restraining order must have the completed forms to the Clerk’s Office in room 113 before 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. The clerk will give the completed forms to a judge to review. The applicant may pick up the forms at the Clerk’s Office after 2:00 p.m. If the reviewing judge approves them, the clerk will set a date for the hearing and the restraining order will take effect when it is served on the restrained person. If the 10:30 a.m. deadline is missed, the applicant can still turn in the completed forms which will be reviewed by the Court on the next business day.

In all cases, temporary restraining order forms must be accompanied by a declaration describing in detail the incidents of abuse which support your application for a restraining order. Your request will be reviewed by a judicial officer and then, if the temporary restraining order is granted, it will be filed with the Court. A person over the age of 18 must serve the papers on the other party. The Sheriff’s Office will attempt to serve the papers for domestic violence restraining orders free of charge. The Sheriff’s Office is also located at the Civic Center in Room 145.

At the time you submit your application for a temporary restraining order, you must fill out a confidential Law Enforcement Supplemental Information form. This form requests descriptive information, including birth date, home and work addresses and telephone numbers, and the driver’s license number of the person you seek to have restrained. Bring all identifying information you have regarding this person with you to the Court. The purpose of this form is to make sure that your restraining order can be enforced and that it can be entered into a Statewide Protective Order Registry which is available to all law enforcement agencies.

There are other types of restraining orders that do not involve domestic violence. These include:

  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders: These orders protect individuals from a person harassing them who is not a family member and who they have not had a dating relationship with. There are filing fees for civil harassment restraining orders unless the person seeking the restraining order qualifies for a fee waiver because of low income or in the event that violence is alleged. Judicial Council forms for temporary restraining orders may be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders: These orders apply to individuals who fall under the definition of elderly or dependent adults and are seeking protection from abuse. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THESE RESTRAINING ORDERS. Judicial Council forms for temporary restraining orders may be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.
  • Workplace Violence: These orders are filed by the business owner or manager of the business to protect the employees or individuals who work for a business where there has been violence or threats of violence. There are filing fees for workplace violence restraining orders unless the person seeking the restraining order qualifies for a fee waiver because of low income or in the event that violence is alleged. Judicial Council forms for order to show cause and temporary restraining order may be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.
  • Private Postsecondary School Violence Restraining Orders: This type of order must be requested by a chief administrative officer of the institution that the student attends or is applying to when there are credible threats of violence against the student. The chief administrative officer is the principle, president or highest-ranking official of the private postsecondary educational institution and is normally represented by the institution’s official lawyer. Judicial Council forms for private postsecondary school violence restraining orders may be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.

To apply for a restraining order, please complete the forms, available from the links above, and file them at the Civil Clerk’s Office in Room 113.


Marin County Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The Court offers several types of Alternative Dispute Resolution: family law mediation (child custody, child support), civil and family law settlement conferences and arbitration. The Court’s ADR Coordinator arranges for the trained professionals and schedules the hearings. For more information about these programs, please refer to the Court’s Local Rules related to ADR, under the topic, Settlement Conferences, by clicking here.

For copies of all the Judicial Council and local forms in the ADR forms packet, please click here.

For a list of ADR attorneys in Marin and to learn the minimum requirements to serve as a mediator, arbitrator, or ADR neutral, please click on this link.

Locations of Bench Bar and Settlement Conferences at the courthouse:

Civil Settlement Conference Panelists.

For an attorney wishing to volunteer as a Civil Settlement Conference Panelist, please find the application by clicking here.

Civil Court Appointed Judicial Arbitrators.

For an attorney wishing to volunteer as a Civil Court Appointed Judicial Arbitrator, please find the application by clicking here.

Family Law Settlement Conference Panelists.

For an attorney wishing to volunteer as a Family Law Settlement Conference Panelist, the Court requires that panelists meet certain experience requirements. To see these requirements, please click here. To complete an application to serve on this panel, please find the application by clicking here.

For a mental health professional wishing to serve as a Family Law Settlement Conference Panelist, the Court requires that panelists meet certain experience requirements. To see these requirements, please click here. To complete an application to serve on this panel, please find the application by clicking here.


Marin County Public Defender

Jose H. Varela, Public Defender

The Office of the Marin County Public Defender strives to provide effective and innovative legal services by protecting the constitutional rights of our clients while treating them with respect and encouraging them to lead productive and positive lives.

In Custody

If you are taken into custody when you are arrested, the police may want to talk with you about your case. Before talking with you, the police must tell you that you the following (often referred to as a Miranda advisement):

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  • You have the right to talk to an attorney and to have an attorney present before and during questioning
  • If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed free of charge to represent you if you desire

Do not talk to the police about your case. Tell the police that you do not want to talk to them about your case and that you want an attorney. Then, say no more. You are entitled to a phone call.

However, except for attorney calls, your jail phone calls are recorded! Do not discuss the case, or anything related to it, with anyone other than your attorney. Likewise, your jail visits can be audiotaped.

Initial Arraignment

The very first court appearance is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, the court provides you or your private attorney with a copy of the complaint. The complaint is a written document, filed by the prosecutor, accusing you of one or more crimes. If you can’t afford a private attorney, the court typically refers you to the Public Defender’s Office and sets a future date for your case in one of the felony court rooms.

If you are in jail, an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office will visit you to determine whether or not you qualify financially for the services of the Public Defender.

If you are out of custody, you will go to the Public Defender’s Office at Room 139, Marin Hall of Justice, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, and an attorney will conduct a financial evaluation in the Public Defender’s Office. At this first meeting, your attorney will briefly discuss your case and your history. If there is no police report available, the attorney may wait to obtain the police report before talking with you in more detail about what happened in your case.

Appointment of Counsel and Entry of Plea

At the next court date, the Public Defender’s Office is officially appointed as counsel of record on your case (if you qualify for our services). If you are out of custody, you may want to call the office at (415) 473-6321, to discuss the case with the assigned attorney before your court date. Your attorney will most likely enter a not guilty plea on your behalf and may set the case for a preliminary hearing.

Change of Plea or Trial Setting

After you have been accepted as a Public Defender client, your attorney will speak to the prosecutor (District Attorney) about possible ways to resolve your case short of preliminary hearing and/or trial. This process, called plea bargaining, simply gives you additional information and choices to make about how you wish to handle your case.

A District Attorney offer typically is in the form of if the defendant will plead guilty now to the charge we want him to plead guilty to, then the prosecution will dismiss other counts in the complaint or reduce the penalties.

If you take the offer, then the prosecutor does:

  • not have to reassign the case to another prosecutor,
  • not have to prepare the case for trial,
  • not have to interview witnesses,
  • not have to bring the witnesses to court,
  • not have to bring the evidence brought to court, and
  • law enforcement officers do not have to come to court.

Therefore, the bargain for a prosecutor in a plea bargain is that it saves the prosecutor work, and it saves the courts time and money. Of course, whether the offer is a bargain for you is something that you will discuss with your lawyer. But the decision whether to accept or reject a prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain is your decision.

If you accept the offer by the prosecutor, then a number of things happen. First, you will review with an attorney the contents of a change of plea form. After you initial and sign the change of plea form, you will give it back to your lawyer who will review it and sign it. The change of plea form is then given to the judge. The judge will show you the change of plea form and ask you questions about it such as: Are these your initials?; Is that your signature?; This form says you want to plead guilty to count 1, is that what you want to do?; and, other questions to make sure you know and understand what you are doing and that the plea is what you want to do.

Instead of entering a bargain with the District Attorney, you may want to enter a bargain with the judge. Your attorney may go into the judge’s office and discuss your case with the District Attorney present. The judge may make an offer such as: If your client pleads guilty to all of the charges, I won’t send him/her to state prison (I will give them probation and local jail time). If you get an offer from the judge, the District Attorney will withdraw any offer they may have made to you.

If you do not accept the District Attorney or the judge’s offer, then you will proceed to preliminary hearing and trial.

Preliminary Hearing

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for a judge to decide whether there is sufficient cause for the judge to believe that you committed one or more of the charged crimes. The prosecutor calls witnesses and puts on evidence at the preliminary hearing.

If you are in custody you are entitled to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days from the date of your arraignment. Court days means those days in which the court is open for business; Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are excluded. If you are out of custody you are entitled to a preliminary hearing within 60 calendar days.

To effectively defend some cases, it is sometimes necessary for the person accused to give up (waive) the right to a speedy preliminary hearing and/or a speedy trial so the defense lawyer can obtain all the necessary evidence and reports from the prosecution and complete the defense investigation. Your attorney will advise you whether or not they believe a waiver would be helpful in your case and the reason for it. You then decide if you want to waive your right to a speedy preliminary hearing.

At the hearing, your attorney will question the witnesses. Your attorney might also present evidence at the preliminary hearing, (for tactical reasons, presentation of such evidence is rare), but this is a decision your attorney will make. At the end of the preliminary hearing, the judge will decide whether the evidence produced establishes probable cause to believe that you committed a crime.

If the judge decides there is no probable cause, then you win. If the judge decides there is probable cause to believe you committed one of the charged crimes, then the judge will issue an order requiring you to stand trial. If the preliminary hearing judge issues an order holding you to answer the charges at trial, then a date will be set for your arraignment for trial.

Arraignment on Information

Arraignment for trial must occur within 15 days of your preliminary examination.

Arraignment for trial is a very brief court appearance in front of a judge typically lasting two minutes or less. You must be present at the arraignment for trial.

At the arraignment for trial, your lawyer is given two things. First, your lawyer is given a written document listing the charges you must face in the trial court. This document is called an information. Second, your lawyer is given a copy of the preliminary hearing transcript. The preliminary hearing transcript is a written version of what people said under oath at the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing transcript is not available until the date of the trial court arraignment. In addition to receiving the information and the preliminary hearing transcript your lawyer will be given a motion filing date and a trial date.

Trial

At trial, 12 members of the community will listen to the evidence and decide whether or not you are guilty of the charge(s) beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial is required to begin within 60 days from the date of your trial court arraignment. You must be present on time every day of your trial. You may waive your right to a speedy trial and postpone the date beyond this time limit. This timing is a strategic question to discuss with your attorney.

Do not talk to anyone about your case, other than your attorney. If you talk to other persons, they may later be forced to testify against you. This includes family and friends.

Your lawyer will want to talk with you as soon as possible about the case.

To help him or her, please write or print the following:

  • Any questions you have.
  • The names of all witnesses.
  • The nicknames or other names the witnesses are known by, if any.
  • The addresses of all witnesses.
  • The telephone number of all witnesses.
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people who can tell the court something favorable about either the facts of the case or about you, the accused, personally.

If you are out of custody, please telephone the Public Defender’s office at (415) 473-6321 as soon as possible to make an appointment to discuss your case with your attorney.

Sentencing

If you are convicted of a Felony either by pleading guilty, or at trial, the judge will sentence you. Felony sentencing can include a combination of many things, depending on the crimes and facts involved, and your personal history. Typical court orders include such items as:

  • Jail, actual or suspended
  • Jail alternatives, such as community service
  • Probation orders, which can be informal, such as “lead a law abiding life for the next number of years,” or formal, such as “follow all the instructions ordered by your Probation Officer.”
  • Restitution (paying back anyone injured, or paying a sum to various community funds to prevent crime and such).
  • Fines or their alternatives.
  • Counseling, treatment, or education programs (drinking driver programs, or domestic violence programs, for example).

Please be certain you understand all of the terms of your sentence, and comply with them. We recommend you keep a “diary” or personal record so you can keep track of all you have done. Ask your lawyer to explain anything that seems confusing.

In Custody

If you are taken into custody when you are arrested, the police may want to talk with you about your case. Before talking with you, the police must tell you the following (often referred to as a Miranda advisement):

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  • You have the right to talk to an attorney and to have an attorney present before and during questioning
  • If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed free of charge to represent you if you desire

Do not talk to the police about your case. Tell the police that you do not want to talk to them about your case and that you want an attorney. Then, say no more. You are entitled to a phone call.

However, except for attorney calls, your jail phone calls are recorded! Do not discuss the case, or anything related to it, with anyone other than your attorney. Likewise, your jail visits can be audiotaped.

Arraignment

The very first court appearance is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, the court provides you or your private attorney with a copy of the complaint. The complaint is a written document, filed by the prosecutor, accusing you of one or more crimes. If you can’t afford a private attorney, the court typically refers you to the Public Defender’s Office and gives you a date to come back to court with an attorney and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

If you are in jail, an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office will visit you to determine whether or not you qualify financially for the services of the Public Defender.

If you are out of custody, you will go to the Public Defender’s Office at Room 139, Marin Hall of Justice, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, and an attorney will conduct a financial evaluation in the Public Defender’s Office. At this first meeting, your attorney will briefly discuss your case and your history. If there is no police report available, the attorney may wait to obtain the police report before talking with you in more detail about what happened in your case.

Appointment of Counsel and Entry of Plea

At the next court date, the Public Defender’s Office is officially appointed as counsel of record on your case (if you qualify for our services).Public Defender cases are called at 10:30 am, usually in Department M. Non-English speaking clients are usually called on the 2:00 pm calendar. If you are out of custody, you may want to call the office at (415) 473-6321, to discuss the case with the assigned attorney before your court date.

On your court date: it is very important that you come to Room 139, the Public Defender’s Office, between 9:00 am and 9:30 am. Non-English speaking misdemeanor clients who require a translator should be in the office by 1:00 pm. one hour before the 2:00 pm calendar begins. The hour before court is the time you will meet with your attorney and discuss the best way to approach your case.

Change of Plea or Trial Setting

After you have been accepted as a Public Defender client, your attorney will speak to the prosecutor (District Attorney) about possible ways to resolve your case short of trial. This process, called plea bargaining, simply gives you additional information and choices to make about how you wish to handle your case.

A District Attorney offer typically is in the form of if the defendant will plead guilty now to the charge we want him to plead guilty to, then the prosecution will dismiss other counts in the complaint or reduce the penalties.

If you take the offer, then the prosecutor does:

  • not have to reassign the case to another prosecutor,
  • not have to prepare the case for trial,
  • not have to interview witnesses,
  • not have to bring the witnesses to court,
  • not have to bring the evidence brought to court, and
  • law enforcement officers do not have to come to court.

Therefore, the bargain for a prosecutor in a plea bargain is that it saves the prosecutor work, and it saves the courts time and money. Of course, whether the offer is a bargain for you is something that you will discuss with your lawyer. But the decision whether to accept or reject a prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain is.

If you accept the offer by the prosecutor, then a number of things happen. First, you will review with an attorney the contents of a change of plea form. After you initial and sign the change of plea form, you will give it back to your lawyer who will review it, sign it. The change of plea form is then given to the judge. The judge will show you the change of plea form and ask you questions about it such as: Are these your initials?; Is that your signature? This form says you want to plea guilty to count 1, is that what you want to do?; and, other questions to make sure you know and understand what you are doing and that the plea is what you want to do.

If you do not accept the District Attorney’s offer, then you will set the case for trial or some other kind of hearing. At trial, 12 members of the community will listen to the evidence and decide whether or not you are guilty of the charge(s) beyond a reasonable doubt.

Trial

If you are in custody you are entitled to a trial within 30 days from the date of your arraignment. If you are out of custody you are entitled to a trial within 45 days. In either situation, you may waive your right to a speedy trial and postpone the date beyond these time limits. This timing is a strategic question to discuss with your attorney.

Do not talk to anyone about your case, other than your attorney. If you talk to other persons, they may later be forced to testify against you. This includes family and friends.

Your lawyer will want to talk with you as soon as possible about the case.

To help him or her, please write or print the following:

  • Any questions you have.
  • The names of all witnesses.
  • The nicknames or other names the witnesses are known by, if any.
  • The addresses of all witnesses.
  • The telephone number of all witnesses.
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people who can tell the court something favorable about either the facts of the case or about you, the accused, personally.

If you are out of custody, please telephone the Public Defender’s office at (415) 499-6321 as soon as possible to make an appointment to discuss your case with your attorney.

Sentencing

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor either by pleading guilty, or at trial, the judge will sentence you. Misdemeanor sentencing can include a combination of many things, depending on the crimes and facts involved, and your personal history. Typical court orders include such items as:

  • Jail, actual or suspended.
  • Jail alternatives, such as community service
  • Probation orders, which can be informal, such as lead a law abiding life for the next number of years, or formal, such as follow all the instructions ordered by your Probation Officer.
  • Restitution (paying back anyone injured, or paying a sum to various community funds to prevent crime and such).
  • Fines or their alternatives.
  • Counseling, treatment, or education programs (drinking driver programs, or domestic violence programs, for example).

Please be certain you understand all of the terms of your sentence, and comply with them. We recommend you keep a “diary” or personal record so you can keep track of all you have done. Ask your lawyer to explain anything that seems confusing.

I Have Been Given a Citation! What Happens Next?

Most Charges

The police officer will prepare a report and send it to the Juvenile Probation Office.

If you are already on probation the report will be given to your Probation Officer who will send it on to the District Attorney. The District Attorney will decide if the report shows that you have violated the law.

  • If the DA decides that the report does not show that a crime was committed nothing further will happen.
  • If the DA decides that the report does show that a crime was committed s/he will file charges, called a Petition, and will have the Court Clerk send you and your parents copies of the Petition and a Notice to Appear in the Juvenile Court, 14 Jeannette Prandi Way, San Rafael. The Notice will set a Court date in approximately three weeks. You and at least one of your parents or guardians must appear.

If you are not on probation the report will be assigned to a probation officer who will contact you and your parent/s and ask you to come to the office to meet with the probation officer.

  • The Probation Officer you meet with has the ability to put the case over six months and close (dismiss) the case if you do certain agreed upon things. These things can include community service, counseling, and/or urinalysis testing. This program is called Informal Probation. In this program you never go to court and there is never any finding that you violated the law. The case is simply dismissed if you complete all the requirements.
  • If you do not want to participate in Informal Probation or if the Probation Officer believes you would not be able to successfully complete Informal Probation, the Probation Officer will forward the report to the District Attorney who will decide if the report shows that you have violated the law and proceed as described above.

When you arrive for your first court date you will meet with a lawyer who has been assigned by the Judge to represent you. There will be no witnesses in court this day and no final decisions will be made about your case this day. You will see the Judge after talking to your lawyer. The Judge will want to know that you understand the charges and to answer any questions you have about your rights in the Juvenile Delinquency system. The Judge will ask how you and your attorney want to proceed or if you need longer to decide how to proceed.

More Serious Charges

The police officer will prepare a report and send it to the Juvenile Probation Office.

The Probation Officer will send the report to the District Attorney who will decide if the report shows you have violated the law.

  • If the DA decides that the report does not show that a crime was committed, nothing further happens.
  • If the DA decides that the report does show that a crime was committed s/he will file charges, called a Petition, and will have the Court Clerk send you and your parents copies of the Petition and a Notice to Appear in the Juvenile Court, 14 Jeannette Prandi Way, San Rafael. The Notice will set the Court date in approximately three weeks. You and at least one of your parents or guardians must appear.

In certain felony charges, the Court will send you written information about the Deferred Entry of Judgment program. There may be many benefits to you if you decide to participate in this program so it is important to read the information about the program before coming to court and speaking to your lawyer.

Some Other Charges – Juvenile Traffic Court

Some citations will be referred to Juvenile Traffic Court. Charges that are infractions, mostly those which cannot result in you going to Juvenile Hall as a punishment, are heard in the Juvenile Traffic Court at the Civic Center Hall of Justice, San Rafael. You will not be automatically appointed a Public Defender in this type of case because you cannot be incarcerated or punished by the Court more severely than a fine.

Important Information about Juvenile Traffic Court: Occasionally more serious cases with more serious punishments such as incarceration or mandatory loss of license are put on the Juvenile Traffic Court calendar. These charges are called misdemeanors. In these cases you are entitled to have the Public Defender represent you. If you would like to talk to a Public Defender before proceeding on your case, tell the Juvenile Traffic Referee (the judge) and s/he will tell you how to arrange for that to happen. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a Public Defender by being subject to greater penalties or by being charged with a misdemeanor you should ask the Juvenile Traffic Referee.

I Have Been Taken To Juvenile Hall – What Happens Next?

Your parents have a right to visit you within 24 hours of your coming into detention in Juvenile Hall. They should call (415) 473-3293 to arrange the visit.

Children do not have a right to bail, so if the police officer takes you to Juvenile Hall neither you nor your parents can deposit money in exchange for your release. You will have to wait to be seen by a Probation Officer, who can release you from the Hall, or to be seen by a Judge who also can release you from the Hall.

If you do not already have a probation officer, one will be assigned to you on the first business day following your booking into the Hall. Your Probation Officer will contact you in the Hall and will call your parents for the purpose of deciding whether to recommend you be released. Your parents can call (415) 473-6659 during business hours to get the name of your assigned Probation Officer and to speak to him or her.

If you have been taken to Juvenile Hall, the decisions about filing a charge are made as described above, only more quickly. You will go to court on the next court day after you are detained in Juvenile Hall. Juvenile cases are heard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at 1:30 pm in the courtroom at 14 Jeannette Prandi Road, San Rafael.

Expungement

Expungement is a legal order that acknowledges that you have paid your debt to the criminal justice system and that your criminal history cannot be used to limit your personal opportunities. The Public Defender provides information specific to Marin County that may assist you during the expungement process.

Expungement is a legal term that is described in the article below. In reality, however, expungement means moving on to better things in life. Whether it is a scholarship, a career opportunity or just wanting to close a chapter in your life, expungement is a positive move. Expungement is a legal order that acknowledges that you have paid your debt to the criminal justice system and that your criminal history cannot be used to limit your personal opportunities.

While it is true expungements only help in some instances, you should nonetheless feel good about the commitment you made to qualify for an expungement.

Below you will find legal information on expungement. The section should answer the following questions for you: Who is entitled to an expungement?; Can a felony be expunged? Can a misdemeanor be expunged? If I was sentenced to prison, can I get an expungement? If the court grants an expungement, what does that mean?

The Marin County Public Defender hopes this information helps you during the expungement process. You should note that this information is very specific to Marin County. If your case is in another county, you must contact the public defender in that county to determine how they process expungements. Information for our department and other Marin County agencies available to do expungements is listed toward the end of this article. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about expungements in Marin County.

I. What is an Expungement?

An expungement results in the dismissal of a previous conviction. (See restrictions in Section II, below).

According to Penal Code §1203.4, an expungement is mandatory in any case in which a person was granted and successfully completed probation, without violation, or was discharged from probation early. Completing the conditions of probation specifically includes the full payment of fines and restitution.

The court has discretion to grant an expungement in the interests of justice, in other probation cases, but may not grant an expungement to a person who served a sentence in prison on a felony conviction.

Penal Code §1203.4a provides similar relief to a person convicted of a misdemeanor, but not granted probation. Relief is available under this section at any time after the lapse of one year from the date of sentencing, provided the person (i) fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court, (ii) is not presently serving a sentence, (iii) is not presently charged with any crime, and (iv) has, since being sentenced, lived and honest and upright life.

It is common to ask that certain felony offenses that are deemed wobblers be reduced to misdemeanors in conjunction with a motion for expungement. Penal Code §17(b) provides for such relief, in certain cases.

II. What Are The Effects of Expungement?

It Will:

  • Result in the dismissal of the case;
  • Allow you to answer on job applications that you have not been convicted. If, however, you are applying for a government job or a job which requires a government issued license, certificate or permit or a job which involves a security clearance, the conviction will be discovered;
  • If the conviction was for a felony, it is the first step in obtaining a pardon.

It Will Not:

  • Remove the conviction from your rap sheet. Your record will reflect a conviction and a dismissal pursuant to 1203.4;
  • Reinstate the right to possess firearms; however, a reduction to a misdemeanor may accomplish this if the offense is not one of violence;
  • Allow you to omit the conviction on applications for government issued licenses;
  • Seal or otherwise destroy the records.
  • Prevent the conviction from being used as a prior in a subsequent prosecution;
  • Prevent the conviction from being used to impeach if called as a witness;
  • Prevent the conviction from being considered and used to refuse and revoke government licenses and permits such as teaching credentials, foster care licenses, nursing licenses, bus drivers licenses etc…, however, the expungement will usually reduce the weight a licensing agency gives to the conviction;
  • Eliminate the conviction from consideration for immigration purposes.

III. Who is Eligible For an Expungement?

Any person who was convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, who successfully completed probation, is not now serving a sentence for any other offense, is not charged with the commission of a new offense and is not currently on probation.

In addition, any person who, after the passage of one year, was convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation may apply for expungement.

IV. Who is Not Eligible For An Expungement?

The following persons are ineligible for expungement:

  • Those who were convicted of a felony and sent to prison
  • Those who were convicted of the following sex related offenses: Penal Code §§ 286(a) 288, 288a(c), 288.5, 289(j) and a felony conviction for 261.5(d)
  • Those who were convicted of the following Vehicle Code offenses: §§ 2800, 2801 and 2803.

V. What Is The Procedure?

Time Limits

Upon filing the motion, the District Attorney has 60 days in which to respond. If there is no objection to the motion, an order will be forwarded to the Judge or Commissioner, for signature, and the motion will be granted immediately. If there is an objection, the court clerk will notify you of a court date on the motion, to be heard within 21 days of receipt of the District Attorneys opposition papers.

Service Requirements

The District Attorney, Room 130 and Court Clerk, Room C-10, must be served. You must additionally provide the Court Clerk with a self-addressed stamped envelope so that copies of the signed order or opposition papers and court date may be mailed to you.

Form of Request

A form is available in the Office of the Public Defender and in Room C-10. You may view this form on our site. Additionally, you may download the Judicial Council form from the courts website. Highlight criminal in the drop down bar and click on Form CR180. This form may be filled out online and printed. Alternatively, an attorney may file a formal motion on your behalf.

VI. Where Can I Go For Help?

  • The Office of the Public Defender is available to assist persons who are financially eligible. A nominal fee may be charged based on ability to pay. When contacting the office, ask for the Expungement Division and you will be referred to someone who can assist with questions, assist you in preparing the forms or who can represent you at any stage of the process.
  • The Probation Department is available to assist those persons who were on probation. The cost is $55 per case.
  • Contact the Lawyer Referral Service to assist in finding a private attorney experienced in criminal law. The cost for services may vary.
  • Legal Self Help Services are available to assist with a variety of legal concerns.

V. How Much Will It Cost?

  • You may be required to reimburse the County of Marin for the actual costs for county services rendered, whether or not the petition is granted, up to $120. Ability to pay will be determined by the court.
  • Probation will charge $55 per case if the expungement is sought with their assistance.
  • The public defender may assess a nominal fee for services rendered, depending on ability to pay.

VI. How Can I Get Started?

Contact the Public Defender and download the Petition For Dismissal form to get started.

Administration

The Office of the Marin County Public Defender strives to provide effective and innovative legal services by protecting the constitutional rights of our clients while treating them with respect and encouraging them to lead productive and positive lives. Luna Bail Bonds Marin County works hand in hand with local law enforcement and legal agencies to protect your welfare and assist you the best we possibly can.

The Public Defenders Office

Jose Varela, Public Defender – Jose is a magna cum laude graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. He received his J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Boalt, Mr. Varela was awarded the Sowell Fellowship in Labor Law and was the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the La Raza Law Journal. Mr. Varela served as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties before joining the Marin County Public Defender’s Office in March of 2001. As a trial attorney, Mr. Varela has tried cases ranging from misdemeanors to death penalty cases. He is a current member of the California Public Defender Association’s Board of Directors and is a frequent speaker at CPDA training seminars.

Mr. Varela is active on many Marin County steering committees, including Adult Drug Court, Proposition 36 and the County’s Strategic Plan Implementation Group.

Contact Jose H. Varela

David I. Brown, Chief Deputy Public Defender – David received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and his law degree from Stanford Law School, where he was an Associate Editor for the Stanford Law Review.

Mr. Brown began his legal career in the Marin Public Defender’s Office in 1981. With the exception of brief stints as a Deputy Attorney General in the Federated States of Micronesia, and in private practice, Mr. Brown has spent most of his legal career at the Marin Public Defender’s Office. He has tried many cases in the Marin County Courts, including misdemeanors, LPS cases, and felonies, including three strikes, San Quentin, murder, and death penalty cases.

Mr. Brown is active in a number of professional organizations. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Marin Bar Association. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of Alternate Defenders, Incorporated, and continues to serve as chairperson of their Peer Review Committee. In 2006, the Marin County Human Rights Commission presented Mr. Brown with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is committed to seeking justice by serving his clients with compassion and professionalism.

Contact David I. Brown

Debra A. Leyva, Chief Deputy Public Defender – Debra, a Southern California native, moved north to attend both college and law school. She received her degree at Sonoma State University in sociology and she later received her J.D. from the University of San Francisco Law School, where she qualified for the McAuliffe Honor Society.

She began work with Marin County Public Defender in 1982. During her twenty-five years of practice she has represented clients in criminal, juvenile, mental health, misdemeanor and felony cases, including several major felony trials. She has supervised in the felony and misdemeanor units for the past thirteen years.

Ms. Leyva enjoys participating in collaborative service programs such as Drug Court, Mental Health Court, STAR program and the Forensic Multi-Disciplinary Team. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Hastings which allows her to serve as a mentor to the legal interns and organize the legal intern program in her office. She has dedicated her career to the practice of public criminal defense and considers her compassion for her clients the motivating force in her pursuit of justice.

Contact Debra A. Leyva

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