Criminal Law

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NEW: Prop 47 Felony Charge Reductions

NEW: Court adopts Procedures re: PC§§ 987 et seq for Administration of Funds in Capital Cases.


A criminal case begins when a prosecutor (District Attorney) files formal charges, a person is arrested, or a grand jury issues an indictment. In all criminal cases, the defendant (person accused of a crime) is presumed to be innocent. That means he or she may not be convicted of a crime unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Click on the questions below to get answers to some of the questions people have about their criminal law cases:

Do I have to go to court?

You have to go to court on your scheduled court date in almost all cases. If you do not go to the scheduled court appearance on time, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

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When do I go to court?

It is very important that you check with the court or legal papers you have to find out the day and time you must go to court. You can find this information on one of the following documents:

  • Citation
  • Cash bail receipt
  • Notice of hearing
  • Signed Promise to appear
  • Notice to appear

If you have been calendared for a holiday, Saturday or Sunday please call or go to the Criminal Division counter in person Monday-Friday prior to the appearance date. 

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Where do I go for the court hearing?

There are 3 different locations where a criminal case might be heard in the Contra Costa Superior court. The Court locations are:

Martinez Court
725 Court Street

Pittsburg Branch Court
1000 Center Drive

Richmond Branch Court
100 37th Street

When you get to the courthouse, check the calendar posted on the bulletin board outside the courtrooms for your name and the department where your case will be heard. (Once you find your assigned department, you may go directly to that courtroom.) If you do not see your name on one of the criminal calendar lists, go to the Criminal Clerk's Office to ask about your case.

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What if I missed my court date?

If you missed your court date and a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, you can go to the Criminal Clerk’s Office to add your case to the calendar and have it addressed.  Contact the Clerk’s Office for times..

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How do I get a lawyer to help me?

If you do not hire your own attorney, you can ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you an your appearance date. The court can appoint either the Public Defender or a private attorney.

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What do I bring to court?

In addition to bringing a valid identification document (driver's license, passport, or other picture identification), you should bring other documents such as:

  • Notice of Hearing
  • Bond receipts, cash bail receipts, etc.
  • Jail release paperwork
  • Sentencing order, probation order
  • Money to pay for fines and fees

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How do I file a Petition to Dismiss or Change of Plea?

  • Change of Plea Instructions
    Local Court Form (CR-500)
  • Petition for Dismissal (Pen. Code, §§ 17, 1203.4, 1203.4a)
    Judicial Council Form (CR-180)
  • Order for Dismissal (Pen. Code, §§ 17, 1203.4, 1203.4a)
    Judicial Council Form (CR-181)

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How do I find out about someone who is in custody?

Contact the police agency where the person was arrested.

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Can I get copies of criminal records?

The Criminal Clerk's Office maintains an index of filings and a record of dispositions (judicial decisions.) Court staff cannot look up any criminal records over the telephone. To get information about, or copies of documents from a criminal case, you can write to or visit the Criminal Clerk's Office.  If you make your request in writing, be sure to include:

  • A check made out to "Clerk of the Court".
    (On the note area write "not to exceed $25.00" or the amount the clerk tells you once he or she knows how many copies you want.) If you are asking for a certified copy of the document, you will need to pay an extra $25.00 fee plus $0.50 per page.
  • A self addressed envelope including postage
  • The defendant's name
  • The defendant’s date of birth (if known)
  • The name of the documents you want copies of

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What if I am charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?

If you have received a DUI ticket, your court hearing date and time will be listed on the citation. If you did not receive a citation, the Court will send a notice about your hearing
to the address registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you did not get a notice, or are unsure about when you have to come to court, please call the Criminal Clerk's Office (925-646-4099) for the branch listed on your citation.

Driving after you have taken drugs or alcohol is not safe! You can hurt yourself or someone else, and the court can require you to:

  • Pay fines, mandated fine penalties, and fees when your car is impounded
  • Spend time in jail or prison
  • Lose your driver’s license or driving privilege for 6 months,18 months, 3 years, or, in some cases, permanently
  • Have your car impounded or taken away permanently

Your punishment might be even more serious if:

  • Your blood alcohol level was .20% or more
  • You refused to do a chemical test
  • There was a child under 14 years of age in the vehicle
  • You are also convicted of reckless driving at high speed
  • You drive under the influence again and hurt or kill someone

More information on DUI

DUI Traffic School

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What is an exhibit?

Exhibits are documents or objects produced by a party in an action for identification and may be admitted into evidence during a trial or hearing. Once the trial or hearing has been concluded, the court may order the exhibits to be released to counsel or parties appearing in propria persona, or parties may stipulate to the return of exhibits pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1952, or Penal Code sections 1417 through 1420.

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May I view the exhibits?

The public can view marked exhibits without a court order, except for the following:

  • Weapons or other sensitive items
  • All juvenile records
  • Sealed subpoenaed records
  • Anything ordered sealed/confidential by a judge
  • Photographs that are protected by PC 1417.8

Exhibits can be viewed at the location where the trial took place during normal business hours. You must fill out a “Request to View Exhibits” form. Please contact the Clerk's Office to find out how you can see exhibits.

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How can I get a copy of my exhibits or subpoenaed records?

The public can obtain copies of marked exhibits without a court order, except for the following:

  • Sealed subpoenaed records
  • Anything ordered sealed/confidential by a judge
  • Photographs

Copies of exhibits may be purchased at the location where the trial took place during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The cost for copies is $0.50 per page. Most copy jobs can be completed while you wait; however, a large quantity copy job may require more time and a pick up date and time will be provided to you by the clerk. Please contact the Exhibit Clerk to schedule your appointment to view the exhibits.

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How do I contact the court to pick up my exhibits?

You will need to contact the Clerk's Office or visit the court at the following locations:

  • Martinez
    725 Court Street,
        Room 103 (Civil)
        Room 127 (Criminal)
    Martinez, CA 94553 (925) 646-4099
  • Pittsburg
    1000 Center Drive
    Pittsburg, CA 94565
    Civil / Criminal: (925) 646-4099
  • Richmond
    100 37th Avenue
    Richmond, CA 94805
    Civil / Criminal: (925) 646-4099
  • Walnut Creek - (Traffic Only)
    640 Ygnacio Valley Road
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596
    (925) 646-4099

How can I pick up my exhibits?

Exhibits may be released to the party to whom the exhibits belong or the party’s attorney upon the conclusion of the case and the appeal period has expired. The party requesting that exhibits be returned must prepare and submit a “Stipulation and Order for Release of Exhibits after Final Determination of Case” form. If you will be requesting exhibits, please specify which exhibits are to be returned. Upon the Court approving the Stipulation and Order for Release of Exhibits, the Clerk’s Office will contact you to arrange pick up time. The Court requires individuals to present photo identification (driver’s license, California identification card, or valid photo identification).

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