Los Angeles Superior Court Jurisdiction and Criminal Defendant Administration

The Los Angeles Superior Court is committed to the administration of justice with equality, fairness and integrity, in an expeditious and timely manner for the people of the County of Los Angeles. The Court seeks to provide equal access to justice, prompt and courteous service, independence and accountability of Court actions, and to exercise case management practices designed to facilitate the fair and timely disposition of cases.

The Los Angeles Superior Court has jurisdiction over infraction, misdemeanor and felony cases. The criminal operation handles any complaint filed by a prosecuting agency, including but not limited to the Los Angeles City Attorney, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, the State Attorney General and City Attorney Offices representing the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Burbank and Pasadena.

For the hours of a specific Court location, click on Court locations.

Click here for a list of holidays on which dates the Court will be closed.

Appearance Information

Misdemeanors, felonies and warrants require a court appearance. Prescheduled court appearances will be on the calendar. Advances and continuances may not be included. Please report directly to the courtroom to which you have been assigned. Courtroom doors generally open at 8:30 a.m. If your name is not listed on the calendar and should be, report to the Clerk’s Office for additional information. Present the clerk with any paperwork you have that relates to your case.

To appear in court on a non-calendared case, you must report to the Clerk’s Office by 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. Present the clerk with any relevant paperwork/information, such as case number, copy of citation, bail/bond receipt, driver’s license number and/or proof of compliance of a Court order.

If you need record checks, have already been sentenced and are due to pay a fine or show proof of program completion, are filing motions or have other Court business, you may appear in the Clerk’s Office during normal business hours.

If you are requesting information regarding a defendant who has been brought to Court in custody, please make your inquiry in the Clerk’s Office, or call the specific Court location for information. Please have the defendant’s name, date of birth and booking number or arresting agency ready.

For courtroom appearances, the following rules are enforced:

Shirt and shoes are required in the courtroom.
Tank tops and T-shirts are NOT allowed in the courtroom.
Food, drinks, and gum chewing are NOT allowed in the courtroom.
Weapons are NOT allowed in the courthouse.
Pagers and cell phones must be turned off.

Cases Handled In The Criminal Division

Infractions
Infraction crimes are not punishable by imprisonment. A person charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury, and is not entitled to be represented by Court-appointed counsel at public expense unless the person is held in custody. The most common infractions are vehicle moving violations, which are typically charged/filed on traffic citations.

Infraction violations usually do not require a Court appearance and can be processed in the Clerk’s Office. However, if a defendant wishes to appear in Court, he or she may schedule a Court date to appear for arraignment and/or court trial.

Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a maximum fine of $1000 and a county jail term of one year or less. However, some offenses exceed these general criteria; for example, spousal abuse can carry a $6000 maximum fine. Common examples of misdemeanor violations include petty theft, prostitution, vandalism, and driving under the influence.

The processing of a misdemeanor usually follows this order:

An arrest is made – police take the defendant to jail. Three things can happen:

The defendant is released – no charges are filed.
The defendant posts bail/bond or is released on his or her own recognizance (“O.R.”) and is scheduled for arraignment.
The defendant remains in the custody of the law enforcement agency and is transported to Court for arraignment.
Arraignment
The misdemeanor arraignment is the defendant’s first appearance in Court. The following events occur:

The defendant is informed of the charges against him or her.
The defendant is advised of his or her constitutional rights.
If the defendant cannot afford an attorney of his or her own choice, an attorney is appointed by the Court.
The defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
Not Guilty: The defendant states that he or she did not commit the crime.
Guilty: The defendant admits that he or she committed the crime and is in effect, convicted.
No Contest:Also known as “Nolo Contendere.” The defendant does not contest the charge. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, except that the subsequent conviction cannot be used against the defendant as evidence of liability in a civil suit.
The defendant is released on his or her “Own Recognizance,” or the Court sets bail and the defendant is remanded/committed to the custody of the Sheriff.
Pretrial
At the pretrial hearing, there is an exchange of information between the prosecution and the defense known as discovery. Pretrial motions may also be filed before the start of the trial. Motions may be made to set aside the complaint, to dismiss the case, to suppress evidence, etc. The defendant may at this point change his or her plea to guilty or no contest.

Jury Trial
Section 1382 of the Penal Code specifies the time periods within which a defendant charged with a misdemeanor must be brought to trial.

If the defendant is in custody at the time of arraignment, the trial must begin within 30 days (four weeks plus two days) of arraignment or plea, whichever is later.

If the defendant is not in custody at the time of arraignment, the trial must begin within 45 days (six weeks plus three days) of arraignment or plea, whichever is later.

If the defendant waives the right to a speedy trial (enters a time waiver or “waives time”) or requests/consents to the case being set beyond the statutory periods, the Court must begin the trial within ten days of the day the case is set or continued for trial.

Before a trial can begin, the attorneys must select a jury. During the trial, witnesses may testify and evidence will be presented. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury must decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the jury finds the defendant is not guilty, he or she is released and cannot be tried again for the same crime. If the defendant is found guilty, the case will be continued for sentencing, or the defendant may be sentenced immediately. The defendant may appeal a conviction to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court.

Court Trial

In lieu of a jury trial, the defendant may agree to proceed with a court trial, in which the judge hears the evidence and arguments and finds the defendant guilty or not guilty.

Felony

Felony crimes are punishable by a state prison term or death. Common examples of felony crimes are murder, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, robbery and rape.

The processing of a felony usually follows this order:

An arrest is made – police take the defendant to jail. Three things can happen:
The defendant is released – no charges are filed.
The defendant posts bail/bond or is released on his/her own recognizance (“O.R.”) and is scheduled for arraignment.
The defendant remains in the custody of the law enforcement agency and is transported to Court for arraignment.
Arraignment
A felony arraignment on the complaint is the defendant’s first Court appearance. The following events occur:

The defendant is informed of the charges against him or her.
The defendant is advised of his or her constitutional rights.
If the defendant cannot afford an attorney of his or her own choice, an attorney is appointed by the Court.
The defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
Not Guilty:The defendant states that he or she did not commit the crime.
Guilty:The defendant admits that he or she committed the crime and is in effect convicted.
No Contest:Also known as “Nolo Contendere.” The defendant does not contest the charge. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, except that the subsequent conviction cannot be used against the defendant as evidence of liability in a civil suit.
The Court sets bail and the defendant is remanded to custody, or the defendant is released on his or her “Own Recognizance” or “O.R.”
Preliminary Hearing
A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is sufficient evidence that the defendant committed the crime and should therefore be “held over” for trial.

Once a defendant is “held to answer,” the prosecuting agency files a document called the Information. The defendant will subsequently be arraigned on the Information at which time he or she will enter a plea and proceed to trial.

Jury Trial
Section 1382 of the Penal Code specifies the time periods within which a defendant charged with a felony must be brought to trial.

The Information must be filed within 15 days of the date the defendant was “held to answer” at the preliminary hearing.

The trial must begin within 60 days of the arraignment on the Information, unless the defendant enters a general waiver of the statutory time requirement or requests/consents to a date beyond the 60-day period.

Before a trial can begin, the attorneys must select a jury. During the trial, witnesses may testify and evidence will be presented. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury must decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the jury finds the defendant is not guilty, he or she is released and cannot be tried again for the same crime. If the defendant is found guilty, the case will be continued for sentencing, or the defendant may be sentenced immediately. The defendant may appeal a conviction to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court.

Court Trial
In lieu of a jury trial, the defendant may agree to proceed with a court trial, in which the judge hears the evidence and arguments and finds the defendant guilty or not guilty.

Fines

If the Court orders a fine, an additional Penalty Assessment may be added to the fine.

Fines may be paid by cash, money order, credit card, ATM or check in the Clerk’s Office. You may also pay by mail. To ensure your payment is applied to your case, always write your case number on your check or money order. Please do not mail cash.

Fine Payment Or Community Service Extension

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor violation, you may request an extension on your fine or community service hours by appearing in the Clerk’s Office on or before the due date of your fine or community service completion. If further extensions are needed, you must appear in Court. No extensions can be given over the phone.

Cash Bail

Cash bail may be applied to a fine at the time of sentencing if the depositor is the defendant or a third-party who signed the bail receipt giving the Court permission to do so at the time of deposit. If the bail amount is refunded, allow 4-6 weeks processing time for the depositor to receive the refund. Checks are issued from the Auditor-Controller’s Office in Los Angeles.

If you do not receive your refund after six weeks, please make sure that you have the defendant’s name, amount of bail deposited, case number and receipt number ready and contact the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location. Cash bail or a surety bond may be posted in the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location, or at Los Angeles County Jail.

Failure To Appear

If you fail to appear in Court as promised/ordered, the Court will order and issue a warrant for your arrest. Further, you may be punished by jail and/or a fine, regardless of the disposition of the original charge (Section 853.7 P.C. OR 1320 P.C.). In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles may withhold issuance or renewal or your driver’s license and may revoke or suspend your driving privilege for Vehicle Code offenses. The prosecuting agency may also ask the Court to add additional charges against you.

Failure To Pay A Fine

If you fail to pay a fine as promised/ordered, the Court may order and issue a warrant for your arrest. Further, you may be punished by jail and/or a fine, regardless of the disposition of the original charge (Section 853.7 P.C. or 1320 P.C.).

Alternatively, upon failure to pay a fine, the Court may apply civil penalties to enforce the monetary conditions of a sentence. In an effort to facilitate the effective collection of fines, fees and assessments ordered or authorized by the Court, the Los Angeles Superior Court implemented a comprehensive collection program.

Section 1214.1 (a) of the Penal Code authorizes a $300.00 civil assessment and states, “In addition to any other penalty in infraction, misdemeanor, or felony cases, the Court may impose a civil assessment of up to three hundred dollars ($300) against any defendant who fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in Court for any proceeding authorized by law or who fails to pay all or any portion of a fine ordered by the Court.”

Appeals

For misdemeanor cases, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date of the judgment or order. For felony cases, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 60 days of judgment or order. Appeal information and forms may be obtained in the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location. The clerk cannot advise you of any legal issues regarding your appeal or advise you as to the content of any required papers.

Expungement

An expungement is a process by which a conviction or plea (of Guilty or No Contest) in a criminal action is set aside and the case is dismissed. It relieves the defendant of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal action. You may file an expungement petition after you have fulfilled all terms of probation, or have been discharged from the original term of probation, or have not been placed on probation and all your sentence terms have been completed.

The Court costs may be assessed on petitions for expungement. You may file your petition and your proof of service on the prosecuting attorney by mail or in the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location. Your petition will be submitted to a judge and you will be notified through the mail once a decision is made.

Click here for more information about how to clean up your criminal record.

Restraining Orders

A Restraining Order is an order by the Court to protect you or your children under age 18 who live with you from violence or threats of violence. The violence or threats must come from someone in your family or in your home or with whom you have a close relationship. Obtaining a Restraining Order is a legal process. However, you don’t need a lawyer to obtain a Restraining Order. There are many forms required. To obtain the forms, or for information on agencies that can assist you with this process, view the Family Law Web page or visit the California Courts Self-Help Center Protection from Abuse web page.

Public Records

The public may not have access to an arrest report or any document containing a victim’s name, address, or telephone number.

Photocopies of public records can be requested in the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location. Please refer to the current Fee Schedule for copy and certification fees.

Name Indexing/Search Fees Or To Inquire About A Case

The Clerk’s Office will conduct a name index/name search when requested. Name searches are limited to cases filed within Los Angeles County. Requests for name indexes/name searches may be made in person in the Clerk’s Office or through the mail. Results may be picked up or returned by mail in a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Please refer to the current Fee Schedule for name index costs, or contact the Clerk’s Office for more information or forms.

Name indexing and case disposition information is not provided over the telephone.

Disposition of cases is not given over the telephone.

Legal Representation

Clerks are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. If you are provided legal assistance through the Public Defender’s office, or any other Court-appointed counsel, the Court will make a determination of your ability to pay all or part of the costs. If the Court finds that you can pay, it may make an order for you to pay the costs. This order has the same force and effect as a civil judgment. The Court may also order that you return for additional hearings to determine your ability to pay the cost of a Court-appointed counsel after your case is concluded. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint one at the time of arraignment if you qualify.

Description Of Domestic Violence Courts

In 1993, the first Domestic Violence Court began operations at the Long Beach Courthouse. Subsequently, additional Domestic Violence Courts opened in various courts throughout Los Angeles County. There is now a total of five Domestic Violence Courts in the Los Angeles Superior Court: Long Beach Courthouse, El Monte Courthouse, West Covina Courthouse, Pomona Courthouse and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse (Department 8) in downtown Los Angeles.

Domestic Violence Courts were created to provide specialization and efficiency in the handling of the increasing number of domestic violence cases being filed in the County. The judicial officer in a Domestic Violence Court develops expertise in handling issues unique to domestic violence cases – providing sensitive, consistent sentencing and firm oversight on each case.

Categories Of Domestic Violence Cases

Categories of crimes, which may be heard in a specialized Domestic Violence Court, include, but are not limited to:

Section 273.5 of the California Penal Code: willful infliction of corporal injury on a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant etc.
Section 242 of the California Penal Code: Battery – any willful or unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
Section 243 (e) of the California Penal Code: battery against a spouse, cohabitant, parent of the defendant’s children etc.
Section 240 of the California Penal Code: Assault – an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability to commit a violent injury etc.
Section 136.1 of the California Penal Code: intimidation of victims and witnesses.

What Happens If I Enter A Plea?

You may be ordered by the Court to complete counseling or education classes, such as a domestic violence batterer’s program, a child abusers’ education program, parenting classes, or anger management classes. You may also be required to complete alcohol counseling or attend Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings. Furthermore, the Penal Code requires periodic progress reports from some of these programs.

For more specific information on any of these programs, please contact the Clerk’s Office at the appropriate Court location.

Published by: Crim Law on January 6th, 2021 | Filed under Criminal Law




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