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Monterey County Courts
Monterey Court General Information
- You will be required to submit to entrance security screening;
- Check the calendar listing for your name and courtroom ;
- Report directly to the courtroom as indicated; and
- If your name is not on the calendar listing, check in at the Clerk’s Office for further instructions.
You should plan to arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes prior to your scheduled court appearance. Parking is very limited at the Salinas court location. You should also allow time for passing through entrance security screening.
There are calendars posted outside of every courtroom as well as a central calendar board with all of the calendars for each courtroom. You must find your name on one of the calendar lists to identify which courtroom you must report to. If you do not find your name on the calendar, you must check in with the Clerk’s Office for further instructions.
If you have an attorney, he/she may confer with you before your court hearing. This is the opportunity for you to ask him/her any last minute questions.
The bailiff will announce when the courtroom is open for the next court session and provide you with instructions.
Upon arriving in the Courtroom, the bailiff will instruct you to:
- Turn cellular telephones off while in the courtroom;
- Food and/or beverages are not allowed in the courtroom;
- Remove hats, sunglasses and chewing gum; and
- Speak softly and maintain a professional demeanor.
- As soon as your name is called, promptly stand up and walk toward the counsel table; the bailiff will signal you to approach the center of the courtroom.
- It is always important to show respect for the court. Answer the judge’s questions in an audible and clear voice. Attorneys address the judge as “Your Honor.” As a defendant, you may address the Judge as “Your Honor” as well
Court Interpreter Services
California law mandates that any person who is charged with a crime and is unable to understand English has a right to an interpreter throughout the proceedings. A Spanish interpreter is regularly present at the arraignment calendar and other designated calendars, as needed. The Court also provides other language interpreters, including sign language interpreters.
If you need the services of a court interpreter inform the Judge at the time of your court hearing, and state the name of the language you speak. Your case may be continued to another day to provide the court time to schedule an interpreter that speaks your language.
Court-Appointed Attorney in Criminal Proceedings
California law mandates that all defendants in criminal hearings are entitled to legal representation. Many defendants retain the services of a private attorney and pay the attorney directly. For defendants who cannot afford private attorneys, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration form to assist the Judge in determining if you are financially eligible for indigent defense services. Prior to the beginning of the court session, the bailiff will announce that individuals requesting a court appointed attorney will need to complete a Financial Declaration form before their name is called by the Judge. If eligible, the Court will appoint an attorney for any defendant who needs representation through the Office of the Public Defender or Alternate Public Defender’s Office.
The Court cannot recommend an attorney. An attorney referral service hand out will be provided to you on the day of your court appearance that offer, low-cost or no-cost options information to qualifying persons.
The Arraignment is generally the first court hearing on a criminal Complaint, Information, Indictment or Petition for Violation of Probation.
When your name is called by the Judge, please proceed promptly to counsel table and follow the instructions of the bailiff.
The Judge will then inform you of the charge(s) you are facing and advise you of your constitutional rights to a jury or court trial, the right to a court appointed attorney, the presumption of innocence, etc. The Judge will then ask how you plea to the charge or charges.
- A plea of GUILTY means it is an admission of guilt to the charge(s) against you.
- A plea of NO CONTEST means that you do not wish to contest the charge(s) against you. Although such a plea will result in your conviction, you will not be admitting any liability should there be a subsequent lawsuit filed for personal injury or property damage arising from the incident for which you were cited. An example of this would be a traffic accident. If you were the driver who was charged with failure to yield the right-of-way, a No Contest plea to this charge is not an admission of guilt, and could not be used against you in any lawsuit for damages arising from the accident.
- A plea of NOT GUILTY means that you feel you have a defense to the charge(s) or believe the charge(s) is incorrect. You will be asked if you will be hiring an attorney to represent you or if you need a court-appointed attorney.
All further hearings are determined by whether the defendant is charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
At a misdemeanor arraignment, the defendant enters a plea to the charge; guilty, no contest or not guilty.
When a plea of Guilty or No Contest is entered, the defendant will be asked if he/she wishes to be sentenced immediately or return another day for the sentence to be imposed. The defendant will be given an opportunity to tell the Judge about any mitigating circumstances surrounding the charge which might affect the sentence.
When a plea of Not Guiltyis entered, the defendant will be asked if they will be hiring an attorney, representing themselves or requesting a court-appointed attorney. If the defendant is requesting a court-appointed attorney, the court will review the completed Financial Declaration form and will make a determination if the defendant qualifies for the services of a court-appointed attorney.
- If the defendant does not qualify, the case will be continued for ”Further Arraignment” to provide an opportunity for the defendant to contact a private attorney;
- If the defendant qualifies, the judge will appoint the Public Defender and the case will be continued 2 – 3 weeks for a hearing referred to as a “Pretrial Conference”.
A Pretrial conference is a meeting with the judge, district attorney (prosecutor) and defense attorney to discuss the settlement of the case. In complex cases, the pretrial conference is held to discuss constitutional issues (confessions, searches, identification, etc). These issues are generally presented to the court through written “motions” (e.g., Motion to Suppress Evidence, etc.).
A trial is a proceeding in which the prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor calls all the witnesses necessary to prove the crime. Both the defendant and the prosecutor (representing the People of the State of California) have the right to a trial by a jury. Sometimes both sides agree that a judge may listen to the evidence and decide the case without a jury which is referred to as a “Court Trial”. In a jury trial, the jury is the “trier of fact;” in a court trial, the “trier of fact” is the judge. After the evidence is presented, the judge or a jury will determine whether the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime. If the defendant is found not guilty, the case ends. If the defendant is found guilty, a sentencing date will be set.
At the time of sentencing, the Judge will consider the facts of the case to determine the appropriate sentence. The Judge will consult “sentencing guidelines”, which aid the court in deciding upon an appropriate sentence. The Judge may consider different alternatives, such as a fine, probation, and/or a county jail sentence. The Judge must also order the defendant to make restitution to any victims who have suffered any losses.
A misdemeanor sentence, for example a DUI 1st conviction will generally include:
- Informal (Court) Probation between 3 to 5 years;
- County Jail Sentence;
- Fine payable through the Monterey County Revenue Division;
- Referral to an alcohol program;
- Installation of an Inter-lock device; and
- Other terms
The Court will report the DUI conviction to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A DUI conviction remains on your DMV record for ten (10) years and can be alleged as a prior conviction for ten (10) years.
Note: The Department of Motor Vehicles may impose additional sanctions or requirements (license suspension, proof of insurance, etc.).
At a felony arraignment, the defendant enters a plea to the charge; guilty, no contest or not guilty. The defendant is advised of his/her right to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days of the arraignment. If the defendant requests a court-appointed attorney, the court will review that request at the time of the arraignment.
This is a contested hearing before a judge, sometimes called a “probable cause hearing.” The prosecutor presents witnesses to establish that there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that the defendant committed the crime. Because the burden of proof is much less than at a trial, the prosecutor generally does not call all potential witnesses to testify at the “prelim;” generally, the victim, some eye witnesses and some of the investigating officers on the case may testify. The defendant has an attorney, can cross examine the witnesses, and can present his/her own evidence (including witnesses). If probable cause is established, the defendant is “bound over” or “held to answer” for trial. If the Judge decides that there is not probable cause that the defendant committed the crime, the charge can be dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor. A defendant can decide to waive a Preliminary Hearing. If this occurs, the case will go directly to arraignment.
After the case is “bound over” or “held to answer”, the defendant is again arraigned (given formal notice of the charges against him/her). The charging document is called an Information. He/she is again advised of his/her constitutional rights, and enters a plea to the charge (not guilty, guilty or no contest).
As with misdemeanors, the Judge is called upon to resolve various pretrial issues, some of which determine whether the case will continue to a trial, be resolved with a plea, or be dismissed.
A trial is a proceeding in which the prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor calls all the witnesses necessary to prove the crime. Both the defendant and the prosecutor (representing the People of the State of California) have the right to a trial by a jury. Sometimes both sides agree to let a judge listen to the evidence and decide the case without a jury which is referred to as a “Court Trial”. In a jury trial, the jury is the “trier of fact;” in a court trial, the “trier of fact” is the judge. After the evidence is presented, the judge or a jury will determine whether the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime. If the defendant is found not guilty, the case ends. If the defendant is found guilty, a sentencing date will be set.
The probation department prepares a report for the Judge summarizing the crime, and the defendant’s personal and criminal backgrounds. Generally, the victim is contacted for a recommendation of sentence. The probation officer concludes the report with a recommended sentence.
Sentencing in California varies with the crime and can be the most confusing part of the criminal process. At the time of sentencing, the Judge will consider the information in the pre-sentence report before determining the sentence. The parties may offer additional evidence relevant to the Judge’s sentencing decision. The Judge will consult “sentencing guidelines”, which aid the court in deciding upon an appropriate sentence. The Judge may consider different alternatives, such as a fine, probation, a sentence to county jail or prison, or a combination. The Judge must also order the defendant to make restitution to any victims who have suffered any physical or financial losses.
Domestic Violence Court
The Monterey County Superior Court operates a specialized court for criminal domestic violence charges. Domestic Violence Court was created to provide specialization and efficiency in the handling of the increasing number of domestic violence cases being filed in the County.
One significant difference in the Domestic Violence Court is that the defendant may be served with a Criminal Protective Order. A Criminal Protective Order is a restraining order ordering the defendant to stay away from the alleged victim(s) with other conditions.
For additional information on other types of restraining orders, please visit the Court’s Self-Help Center section.
A criminal domestic violence protective order is a restraining order issued under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. This act was passed to protect victims of domestic violence.
The Judge may order a criminal protective order to protect the victim(s) that has a relationship with the defendant and fits one of the following categories:
- Living together
- Relative by marriage
- Children in common
The courtroom proceedings are similar to the misdemeanor proceedings or felony proceedings based on the pending charges.
Penal Code Section 1203.97, requires that if a person is granted probation for a domestic related charge, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, the terms of probation shall include:
- A minimum period of probation for 36 months, which may include a period of formal probation. Formal probation requires the defendant to report to a probation officer;
- A criminal court protective order protecting the victim from further acts of violence, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment, and, if appropriate, containing residence exclusion or stay-away conditions;
- Jail or Prison (based on the charge misdemeanor or felony);
- Participation in a 52 week batterer’s treatment program, with periodic progress reports by the program to the court;
- Pay fees to the Domestic Violence Restraining Order Reimbursement Fund, the Domestic Violence Training and Education Fund and a Victim Restitution Fund; and
- Other court orders as required by statute or as deemed necessary.
If you are the Protected Person, contact the Office of the District Attorney – Victim – Witness Assistance Unit to assist you.
The Monterey County Superior Court operates a specialized court for drug related charges. Drug Treatment Court was created to provide specialization and efficiency in the handling of the increasing number of drug related cases being filed in the County. The judicial officer in a Drug Treatment Court develops expertise in handling issues unique to drug cases – providing sensitive, consistent sentencing and firm oversight on each case.
Deferred Entry of Judgment Drug Program – Misdemeanors (PC §1000.1)
One common form of diversion is called Deferred Entry of Judgment or DEJ. It is usually offered to a first-time drug offender who is only charged with under the influence or simple possession of drugs for personal use.
The Deferred Entry of Judgment program is implemented through collaboration between the Superior Court, Monterey County Probation Department, Monterey County Behavioral Health services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and treatment providers.
In court, the eligible defendant enters a guilty plea to the underlying charge(s). The Judge places the defendant on a deferred entry of judgment (diversion) program for a maximum of 18 months. Defendant(s) are referred to the court approved program, which includes mandatory counseling sessions at Valley Health Associates.
Upon successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program, the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred. The defendant may indicate in response to any question concerning his or her prior criminal record that he or she was not arrested or granted deferred entry of judgment for the offense, except as specified in Penal Code section 1001 subdivision (b). A record pertaining to an arrest resulting in successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program shall not, without the defendant’s consent, be used in any way that could result in the denial of any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
Note: Deferred entry of judgment only applies to eligible drug related offense(s).
The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (SACPA) passed by voters in November, 2000, is also known as Prop 36. This is a different type of diversion program that is designed for nonviolent offenders who are charged with simple drug possession even if they have a prior offense. Prop 36 is an alternative treatment to jail and the increasing costs of incarceration with a strong and lengthy rehabilitation program including SLE (sober living environments), outpatient treatment, and drug education classes.
The SACPA program is implemented through a collaboration between the Superior Court, Monterey County Probation Department, Monterey County Behavioral Health services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, California’s Parole and Community Services Division, treatment providers, and other community organizations.
In court, the eligible defendant pleads “guilty” or “no contest” to the underlying charge. The judge then places him/her on probation. A term of the probation is that the defendant successfully completes a drug rehabilitation program.
Defendants are supervised by a Probation Officer assigned to the unit. The officers ensure compliance with court orders by making referrals to treatment programs and conducting home visits, property searches, and random drug testing.
As participants progress through the phases of the program, they are held accountable to program requirements. If they are non compliant, they can receive sanctions ranging from writing an essay, community service, jail sanction, and program termination. Participants are also rewarded with incentives for positive behavior, such as phase advancements, decreased program requirements, drawings for movie tickets, and program graduation.
Upon successful completion of the drug treatment program, the conviction shall be set aside and the indictment, complaint or information is ordered dismissed; both the arrest and conviction shall be deemed never to have occurred. The defendant shall be released from all penalties resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted except for the following restrictions:
- Does not permit the person to own, possess, or have in his or her custody or control any firearm capable of being concealed upon the person or prevent his or her conviction under Penal Code Section 12021; and
- Does not relieve a defendant of the obligation to disclose the arrest and conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for a position as a peace officer as defined in Penal Code Section 830, for licensure by any state or local agency, for contracting with the California State Lottery, or for purposes of serving on a jury.
A record pertaining to an arrest resulting in successful completion of drug treatment program shall not, without the defendant’s consent, be used in any way that could result in the denial of any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
If the defendant fails to complete the drug treatment program, or otherwise violates the terms of probation, the Judge can sentence him/her on the charge. Those penalties could include jail time or a California state prison sentence.
The Drug Treatment Court (DTC) model includes a higher level of supervision, particularly by the Court and a standardized treatment program for the participants, including phases that each participant must pass through by meeting certain goals. There is also regular and frequent drug testing more so than the Deferred Entry of Judgment Drug Program or the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Program.
In order to participate in the Drug Treatment Court Program (DTC), defendants must have a history of or evidence of present drug abuse or addiction, their abuse or addiction is at least one motivating factor in the commission of their crime. The defendant has failed or not eligible for the Deferred Entry of Judgment Drug Program or the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Program (SACPA – Prop. 36 Drug Program).
Participants are convicted felons or misdemeanants. Majority of drug courts include initial intensive treatment services with ongoing monitoring and continuing care.
Eligible defendants enter a guilty plea, and make regularly scheduled court appearances before the Court. These status hearings are for the purpose of promoting the treatment and rehabilitation of the defendant. A probation officer also works very closely with the defendant by monitoring program compliance and provides progress reports to the Court.
Upon successful completion of a drug treatment court program, the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred. The defendant may indicate in response to any question concerning his or her prior criminal record that he or she was not arrested or granted deferred entry of judgment for the offense, except as specified in Penal Code section 1001 subdivision (b). A record pertaining to an arrest resulting in successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program shall not, without the defendant’s consent, be used in any way that could result in the denial of any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
If a defendant does not or cannot comply with requirements of the treatment program plan and discontinue the use of drugs, participation in the program is terminated. The defendant is returned to custody and criminal proceedings are reinstated.
Mental Health Court – Creating New Choices (CNC) Program
The Creating New Choices Mental Health Programs are collaborative agreements between the Superior Court, Probation Department, Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Behavioral Health, District Attorney’s Office, and Public Defender’s Office, aimed at reducing the repetitive cycle of arrest and incarceration for defendants who have serious mental disorders.
The heart of CNC Program is the multi-disciplinary team consisting of a Forensic Supervisor, Psychiatric Social Workers, a Behavioral Health Aide, a Probation Officer and a Psychiatrist, all of whom work together in developing individualized comprehensive treatment plans, providing intensive mental health and dual-diagnosis treatment, 24/7 support services, probation supervision, housing and benefit assistance, transportation, vocational and educational services (such as cognitive skills training and anger/stress management training), medication management/compliance and connections to community resources.
Once a defendant is referred to the Creating New Choices (CNC) Mental Health Court Program, the Court will then refer the defendant to Behavioral Health for an assessment and placement in an inpatient or outpatient program. Review hearings are regularly scheduled before the Court. These review hearings are for the purpose of promoting the treatment of the defendant. Defendants may receive Certificates of Achievements once milestones are reached. If satisfactory progress is made no further review hearings are set and a court date may be set for successful completion and possible dismissal.
What is Probation?
Probation is a sentencing option for misdemeanor or felony offenses where the maximum penalty for the offense committed is not imposed by the Judge. When probation is granted, the defendant is allowed to remain a member of the community and serves only part of the sentence in jail, if any, with terms and conditions of probation imposed.
Defendants convicted of serious and violent offenses may not be eligible for probation.
Types of probationgranted:
- Formal Probation (Supervised Probation)
- Conditional probation (Court Probation)
Formal Probation (or Supervised Probation) requires the defendant to meet with an assigned probation officer on a regular basis, usually once a month.
Conditional probation (or Court Probation) requires the defendant to complete certain terms of the sentence and obey all laws. Scheduled meetings with a probation officer are not necessary under conditional probation.
For all types of probation, a misdemeanor or felony sentence may include any or all of the following conditions:
- Informal or Formal Probation;
- County Jail time;
- Pay appropriate Fines and Fees as required by statute;
- Pay Victim Restitution;
- Participating in counseling;
- Drug testing;
- Other terms and conditions appropriate to the offense committed.
Generally, probation (formal and conditional) is granted from three to five years, but can vary depending on the charges and defendant’s circumstances.
How Is Probation Violated?
Probation can be violated in many ways. The most commons types of probation violations include:
- Failure to Pay – When the defendant fails to pay required fines or restitution to the victim.
- Failure to Comply – Conditions of a defendant’s probation may include to complete a court-ordered alcohol program, install an ignition interlock device or serve a county jail sentence. When the defendant fails to complete these required programs, a probation violation may occur.
- Failure to Appear – Many probation requirements include a scheduled court appearance for a progress report. When the defendant fails to appear for the required court appearance, a probation violation may occur.
- Failure to Report – Probation may require the defendant to report to a probation officer at scheduled times. Failure to appear when expected may result in a probation violation.
- Possession of Illegal Substances – When the defendant possesses illegal weapons or drugs, a probation violation may occur.
- Committing Crimes – Obeying all laws is mandatory during probation. When the defendant commits new crimes during the probationary period, a probation violation may occur.
- Being Arrested – Regardless of whether criminal charges are present, when the defendant is arrested during the probationary period, a probation violation may occur.
- Other Conditions – Any other terms and conditions imposed by the Judge at the time of sentencing and that the defendant has failed to comply with.
The penalties for a probation violation depend on the severity of the violation. In some cases, a second chance may be given and the probation violation will not affect the original terms or conditions of the probation.
When a probation violation occurs and the Court is informed of the Violation of Probation, the Judge may issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. An arrest may follow shortly thereafter and/or the defendant may be ordered to court for a probation violation hearing. There are several factors that the judge and prosecutor use when considering a probation violation. Examples include:
- The seriousness of the probation violation
- The nature of the probation violation
- The history of previous probation violations
- New criminal activity surrounding the probation violation
- Aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the probation violation
- The probation officer and/or probation department’s view of the probation violation
- The probation violation with respect to the probation term (whether it occurred at the beginning, middle, or end of the probationary term)
- Conditional probation – You must contact the Clerk’s Office to Schedule an Appearance in Court.
- Formal Probation – You must contact your probation officer or attorney.
If you were convicted of a felony and placed on formal probation, you must contact your Probation Officer for filing a request for modification of sentence.
- Formal Probation (Supervised Probation) requires the defendant to meet with an assigned probation officer on a regular basis to ensure defendant complete and comply with specific terms and conditions of the sentence and obey all laws.
- Sentence (probation denied) requires the defendant to complete the sentencing terms imposed.
- Conditional probation requires the defendant to complete and comply with specific terms and conditions of the sentence and obey all laws.
If you fail to comply with a court sentence or the terms and conditions of your probation, a warrant may issue for your arrest for failure to comply with your sentence terms. If you were placed on probation, your probation may be violated, this action is known as a Violation of Probation.
How to Request a Modification of Sentence/Probation
An Application for Modification of Sentence/Probation is a process for requesting the Court to modify the terms of a sentence or the terms and conditions of probation imposed at sentencing. This Application may be filed at any time after the original sentencing has occurred.
- Submit a completed Application for Modification of Sentence form with the Clerk’s Office.
- After review and acceptance by the Clerk, the request will be submitted to the Judge for his/her review.
- After review by the Judge, the Clerk will notify you of the Judge’s decision:
- Request granted;
- Request denied; or
- You must appear in court to further explain to the Judge your request for the modification of sentence.
For additional details about these courtrooms, click here
Courthouse: 240 Church St., Salinas, CA 93901, (831) 775-5400
Mailing Address: 240 Church St., Salinas, CA 93901
For additional details about this courtroom, click here
Salinas Annex: 118 W. Gabilan Street, Salinas, CA 93901 (831) 775-5400
Court Departments located at the Salinas Courthouse include:
- Court Administration
- Mental Health
- Writs of Habeas Corpus
- Court Human Resources
- Jury Commissioner’s Office
- Drug Treatment Court
- Juvenile Dependency Court
- Juvenile Truancy Court
For additional details about this courtroom, click here
Monterey County Probation Department
Courthouse: 1422 Natividad Rd., Salinas, CA 93906, (831) 755-5400
Mailing Address: 240 Church St., Salinas, CA 93901
Juvenile Delinquency Court sessions are held daily in the Juvenile Court Branch located at the Probation Department. All legal documents are filed and maintained at the Clerk of the Court Office at the Salinas Courthouse.
For additional details about these courtrooms, click here
Courthouse: 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey, CA 93940 (831) 647-5800
Mailing Address: Monterey County Courts, 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey, CA 93940
Court Departments located at the Monterey Courthouse include:
- Domestic Violence/Harassment (Restraining Orders)
- Family Law
- Family Support
For additional details about these courtrooms, click here
Courthouse: 250 Franciscan Way, King City, CA 93930, (831) 386-5200
Mailing Address: Monterey County Courts, 250 Franciscan Way, King City, CA 93930
Court Departments located at the King City Courthouse include:
- Juvenile Traffic
- Small Claims (limited services)
- Unlawful Detainers (limited services)
For additional details about these courtrooms, click here
Courthouse: 3180 Del Monte Blvd., Marina, CA 93933, (831) 883-5300
Mailing Address: 3180 Del Monte Blvd., Marina, CA 93933
Court Departments located at the Marina Courthouse include:
- Juvenile Traffic
- Small Claims
- Child Support
The Monterey County Superior Court Criminal Division has jurisdiction over adult felony and misdemeanor cases.
Criminal cases are processed in two Court locations: the Salinas Division and the King City Division.
The Salinas Division is considered the County Seat. The District Attorney may elect to file a criminal complaint in the Salinas Division regardless of where the offense occurred.
The Salinas Division processes criminal cases resulting from a criminal offense committed in Carmel (Includes Carmel-by-the-Sea), Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside, California State University – Monterey Bay, Presidio of Monterey, areas of Big Sur, Carmel Valley and west of Arroyo Seco, Chualar, North Monterey County including the areas of Castroville, Aromas, Moss Landing, Prunedale, Pajaro, and Spreckels.
The King City Division processes criminal cases resulting from a criminal offense committed in King City, Greenfield, Gonzales, and Soledad, areas south of King City to the San Luis Obispo county Line, including Bradley, Lockwood (San Antonio Lake), San Ardo, and San Lucas.
(As noted earlier, the District Attorney may elect to file certain criminal cases committed in these areas in the County Seat – the Salinas Division).
Infraction: Adult infraction criminal and traffic violations are handled in the Marina Division. Some examples are: fishing without a license, dog running at large, sleeping in a park, speeding, running a stop sign, possession of small amounts of marijuana. Misdemeanor vehicle code violations 12500(a), unlicensed driver, are also handled in the Marina Division.
Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is generally punishable by a fine and up to six months in the county jail. Some more serious misdemeanors are punishable by fine and up to one year in the county jail. Common misdemeanor violations include petty theft, driving under the influence, driving without a license, public intoxication, battery and minor assaults.
Felony: A felony is a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for more than one year or death. Some common felony violations are: possession with intent to sell controlled substances, burglary, robbery, arson, carjacking, driving under the influence with bodily injury to another person, and serious assaults
How a Criminal Case Begins
Generally, when a crime is committed, the officer may arrest and place the suspect into custody or issue a citation and release the person on his/her own recognizance with a future court appearance date. The officer will submit a police report to the District Attorney’s Office requesting a formal complaint be filed with the Court.
If the person is arrested, he/she will be booked into the Monterey County Jail on the alleged charges. The person may be:
- Released if not arraigned within the statutory time (generally within 48 hours);
- Booked and released on his/her own recognizance with a future court appearance date;
- Released if bail is posted (cash or bond) with a future court appearance date.
Under California Penal Code 1272, the bail amount may be posted according to a bail schedule.
Bail serves as a guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when required. Bail can be posted in one of the following forms:
- Cash Bail: An individual “deposits” the entire bail amount in cash (or cashier’s check) with the Sheriff. If the defendant fails to appear in court, he/she loses that cash. If all appearances are made on the criminal case, the entire bail amount is returned to the bailer or applied to any fine, with the bailer’s agreement.
- Bail Bond (Surety bond): Bonds are posted by a California Bonds Company by an authorized Bail Bond Agency/Bail bondsman. Typically, the bail bondsman requires a deposit based on the bail amount. The bail bond agency posting the bond must guarantee the amount personally and financially. In the event that the defendant/accused does not appear in court after the bail is posted, then the bail bond could be forfeited and the bail bond agency must pay the entire amount of the bail to the Court – County.
- Property Bond: An individual guarantees the bail amount with property, such as real estate, and could lose that property through foreclosure if the defendant fails to appear in court. For more information please see the Criminal section of the Local Rules of Court.
- Own Recognizance (OR): Defendants may be released on his/her OR without paying bail money or a bail bond, and are scheduled to appear at specific future court dates. If the defendant appears at all scheduled court appearances, the defendant will not be required to pay bail or be incarcerated while their case is pending. If the defendant fails to appear, the person may be arrested.
The District Attorney (prosecutor) will review the police report to determine whether the person should be charged with a crime and, if so, what the crime should be. The prosecutor will review all reports and records, including witness statements. The prosecutor also reviews the person’s prior criminal and/or DMV record. The District Attorney will prepare the charging document, the “complaint,” listing the charges brought against the person.
The District Attorney will file the complaint with the Superior Court, Criminal Division. The complaint is filed on behalf of the State of California (plaintiff) against the accused person (defendant).
Another method for initiating charges against a defendant is a grand jury indictment. The grand jury, comprised of 19 jurors, determines whether probable cause exists based on evidence presented by the prosecutor. Grand jury proceedings are confidential and their actions become public only through the indictment, if one is filed.
Monterey County Clerks Office
Clerks Office Details
The main functions of the Clerk’s Office are to:
- Process criminal complaints filed by the District Attorney, City Attorney or other prosecuting agency;
- Assist the public on criminal matters;
- Schedule court appearances;
- Process criminal related documents; (i.e. requests for modification of sentence; alcohol program, etc.)
- Conduct record searches and process certified copy requests; and
- Process appeals
How the Clerk’s Office Can Help You
The Clerk’s Office is available to help you with court procedures and case information. The Clerk cannot give you legal advice or refer you to an attorney.
Below is a list of services the Clerk’s Office CAN or CANNOT help you with:
|WE CAN||Explain and answer questions about how the court works.||WE CANNOT||Tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court.|
|WE CAN||Provide you with the phone number of the local lawyer referral service, legal services program, family facilitator program, and other services that provide legal advice.||WE CANNOT||Refer to you to an attorney.|
|WE CAN||Provide you with general information about court rules, procedures and practices||WE CANNOT||Give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court.|
|WE CAN||Provide you with schedules and information about how to get a case scheduled for court.||WE CANNOT||Tell you what to say in court.|
|WE CAN||Provide you with court forms and instructions that are available.||WE CANNOT||Tell you what words to use in your court papers. (However, we can check your papers for completeness. For example, we check for signatures, notarization, correct county name, correct case number and presence of attachments).|
|WE CAN||Provide you with information from your case file.||WE CANNOT||Talk to the Judge for you or change an order signed by the Judge.|
|WE CAN||Usually answer questions about court deadlines and how to compute them.||WE CANNOT||Let you talk to the Judge outside of court.|
If you need legal advice, consult with an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.
The Clerk’s Office cannot recommend an attorney. An attorney referral service may offer low-cost or no-cost options to qualifying persons.
- Court Appearance Date
- Person In-Custody
- Failure to Appear for a Court Appearance
All criminal offenses require a court appearance. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you are required to appear in Court on the date, time and location indicated on the citation, promise to appear, bail bond, District Attorney letter or any notice of hearing with a court date.
Failure to appear for a court appearance may result in a warrant issued for your immediate arrest. Court Clerks are not authorized to continue or postpone a court date.
To confirm a court appearance date:
- Visit the Court’s On-line case and calendar information section; or
- Contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone or in person; or
- Contact the District Attorney’s Office to confirm if charges have been filed with the Court.
If the person was arrested and is in custody at the Monterey County Jail, he/she may be:
- Detained up to 48 hours excluding weekends and holidays;
If the District Attorney files a complaint within 48 hours, the Sheriff will transport the defendant to court for arraignment. (Refer to Courtroom Process);
- Eligible to post bail and be released with a future court appearance date; or
- Released on his/her own recognizance with a future court appearance date.
To check the status of a person in-custody, contact:
- The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office;
- The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office to inquire if a complaint will be filed; or
- Access the Court’s On-line case and calendar information section.
Pursuant to California Penal Code section 977(c), the Court may permit the initial court appearance or arraignment held at any state, county or local detention facility be held by two-way electronic audio video communication between the defendant and the courtroom in lieu of the physical presence of the defendant in the courtroom.
The Judge will advise the defendant of his/her constitutional rights and the right to be present in the courtroom. All defendants must sign a consent form prior to the video arraignment. The District Attorney, Public Defender and interpreter, if required, are present in the courtroom.
- To schedule a case for a court hearing, contact the Clerk’s Office in person or by telephone. Click here for court locations.
Court hearings are generally scheduled as follows:
- Misdemeanors: Tuesday – Thursday at 8:15 a.m.
- Felonies: Tuesday – Thursday at 8:30
- Provide the Clerk’s Office a minimum of two (2) business days to process your request. (For example, if today is Monday, the earliest your court date will be scheduled will be Wednesday).
- When scheduling your case for court, please provide the Clerk’s Office with the following information:
- Your name and any other names you use;
- The case number(s), if available. If you have more than one case, please inform the clerk;
- Your telephone number;
- Date you are requesting to appear; and
- Reason for your appearance (warrant outstanding, re-referral to a program, etc.)
- Click here to view Judicial Assignments .
If you failed to appear for a court appearance, a warrant of arrest may have been issued for your immediate arrest.
In addition to a warrant issued for your arrest, other actions may have taken place as a result of your failure to appear:
- The forfeiture of your bail or bond, if applicable; and/or
- A hold may be placed on your driver’s license by the Department of Motor Vehicles, resulting in an inability to renew your license and/or a suspension or revocation of your licensing privileges, if applicable.
Contact the Clerk’s Office to reschedule your case for court.
Important: If you have a warrant outstanding for your arrest and you have a scheduled court date, the warrant will remain outstanding until you appear in court and you may still be subject to arrest by any law enforcement agency. For information on posting bail, you may contact a bail bondsman or the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office regarding this procedure.
If you do not post bail, there is no guarantee when you appear in court that the Judge will release you on your own recognizance; you may be remanded into the custody of the Sheriff until bail is posted. Click here for information on posting Bail.
A few days before your court date, you can confirm that your case is scheduled for court by:
- Accessing the Court’s On-line case or calendar information section; or
- Contacting the Clerk’s Office by telephone or in person;
To verify the Court’s address, click here Court Locations, map & directions.
You should plan to arrive at the court location of your scheduled hearing at least 15-30 minutes prior to the time of your court appearance. Parking is very limited at the Salinas court location and you will have to pass through security screening at all court locations.
- Proper identification (Driver’s License, California ID, or other picture identification);
- Copy of the citation or court case number;
- Notice of hearing/court paper work from the last court appearance;
- Bond receipts, cash bail receipts, etc.;
- Jail release paperwork; and/or
- Sentencing and/or probation order.
- The courtroom is a professional setting and you are encouraged to dress accordingly;
- Be prepared to pass through entrance security screening;
- Check the calendar listing for your name and courtroom number;
- Report directly to the courtroom as indicated; and
- If your name is not on the calendar listing, check in at the Clerk’s Office for further instructions.