- What is a Public Defender?
- What kind of cases does the Public Defender's Office handle?
- What will it cost to be represented by the Public Defender's Office?
- Is a Deputy Public Defender a lawyer?
- If I am arrested, do I have to talk to the police?
- Do I have to consent to a search when asked by the police?
- Can I get a conviction removed from my adult record?
- How do I apply for employment with the Shasta County Public Defender's Office?
- How do I get an attorney from the Public Defender's Office to represent me?
- Can I get legal advice from the Public Defender's Office before the Office is appointed to represent me?
- I forgot the name of my Deputy Public Defender. How can I find out who is representing me?
- I forgot my next court date. How do I find out when I'm supposed to appear next?
forgot where the courthouse is, or the courtroom where my case is going
to be heard. How can I find out where I'm supposed to appear?
- Are all court "appointed attorneys" employees of the Public Defender's Office?
- What happens when someone is charged with a felony?
- What is a plea disposition (PD)?
- What is a preliminary hearing (PX)?
- What happens after the preliminary hearing?
- What is a jury trial?
- What if I don't want a jury trial, can a judge hear my case?
- Why does a complaint or Information always state "The People of the State of California?"
- If I am found guilty at trial, can I appeal?
- If I am charged with a criminal offense, why do they call me a "defendant?"
- What happens when someone is charged with a misdemeanor crime?
- How do I get an attorney for a misdemeanor case?
- Why should I talk to an attorney first?
- What is a settlement conference?
- What is a pre-trial hearing?
- What is an arraignment?
- How do I find out if a bench warrant has been issued for my arrest out of Shasta County?
- Will the Public Defender's Office represent me if I am a resident of another state?
- Will the Public Defender's Office represent me if I am a citizen of another country?
- My English is limited, so how can I get an interpreter to assist me or my limited English speaking witnesses?
- I've heard a lot about Proposition 36 (P36) drug treatment, what is it?
- Who is eligible for P36 drug treatment within the criminal justice system?
- What happens when someone under the age of 18 is charged with a crime?
know my attorney can't repeat anything I say to him or her in confidence,
but how can I be sure that what I say to a Public Defender Investigator
or paralegal will be kept confidential?
- I've been convicted of a felony, can I still vote?
- Can I modify the terms and conditions of my probation, parole, or mandatory supervision?
- What is Realignment, also called AB 109?
- What is Proposition 47?
Answer: Government Code §27700, authorizes the
county Board of Supervisors to create an Office of the Public Defender.
In those counties with a Public Defender's Office, the Public Defender is
a licensed attorney appointed by the Board of Supervisors to run the
Office of the Public Defender. The Public Defender hires attorneys to
act on his or her behalf (e.g., Assistant Public Defender, Senior
Deputy Public Defender, and Deputy Public Defenders), as well as other
employees (e.g. investigators, legal interns, paralegals, secretaries
and legal process clerks), all of whom are dedicated to provide legal
services for those who are unable, because of a financial difficulty, to
hire a private attorney.
Answer: The Public Defender's Office
represents adults and juveniles charged with misdemeanor and felony
criminal conduct, as well as any alleged violation of the terms and conditions
of supervision. The Public Defender's Office cannot legally represent
anyone accused solely of an infraction (i.e., most traffic violations, many municipal code violations, or
any other violation that is not punishable in a jail). The Public Defender's Office also represents anyone subjected to civil proceedings seeking to terminate his or her parental rights under the Family Code, or under the Sexually Violent Predator
(SVP) Act, Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO) Act, Latterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, as well as anyone subject to an involuntary mental health commitment or commitment
Answer: Although it is subject to change, currently
Shasta County has established the value of legal services to be sixty
dollars ($60) per hour. This does not include associated costs (e.g.,
investigative services, expert witnesses, travel and lodging costs for
witnesses, etc.). Whether or not an individual appointed to the Public
Defender's Office will have to reimburse the county for any costs associated
with his or her case is strictly determined by the Court at the end of
the person's case. It is the Court that decides whether or not a person
is financially capable of reimbursing the county for all costs
associated with his or her case. And, there is a statutory procedure in
place that permits a person to challenge any order to reimburse the
county for legal services and associated costs.
Answer: Yes. The Public Defender, Assistant Public
Defender, Senior Deputy Public Defenders and Deputy Public Defenders are
all lawyers licensed through the State Bar to practice law in the State of California.
Answer: No. The police rely upon your voluntary
decision to talk to them--no one can be forced to talk to the police.
However, if you voluntary decide to talk to the police, anything you
say can and will be used against you in court. If you are arrested, it
is highly recommended that you request to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions, and obtain advice
from that lawyer before deciding to answer any questions. If you
cannot afford to hire an attorney for this purpose, it is incumbent
upon the police to get you an attorney if they want to talk to you.
Answer: No. The police rely upon the moral belief
that "if one does not have anything to hide, one shouldn't object to
being searched." Although this may be an admirable moral belief, it is,
in reality, contrary to an individual's constitutional right to privacy. In addition, once you give consent for the police to
search, you have waived your constitutional and statutory rights to
privacy, including the right against unreasonable search and seizure. The decision to consent to
a search by the police is a personal one, and you should carefully
weigh all of those factors that are important to you before making such
Answer: No. Except for a finding of factual
innocence (Penal Code §§ 851.8 – 851.90), nothing actually permanently
removes a conviction from your adult record. However, there are several
different steps that you can take to minimize the stigmatism associated
with an adult criminal record. For example, you may seek permission
from the court to dismiss or expunge a prior conviction (Penal Code §§ 1203.4, 1203.4a, or 1203.41). And, if your prior conviction was for a crime
classified as a felony wobbler (i.e., an offense that is punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor), you may ask the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor (Penal Code §§ 16, 17, 18, 19, 19.2, 19.4, 19.6,
19.7). Finally, you may be eligible to seek a Governor's traditional pardon
[Penal Code §§ 4800 - 4813], or obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) (Penal
Code §§ 4852.01 – 4852.21). Each of these post-conviction procedures is designed to
permit you to claim that although you were convicted, the conviction
was subsequently dismissed or pardoned. So, in short, the record of
your conviction is never actually purged from the justice system, and
if you commit a criminal act in the future, consequences from the
dismissed, expunged or pardoned conviction may still be used against you.
Answer: Available positions are posted on the
Shasta County Home Page under the Support Services Department (also
known as Personnel). Open positions are also advertised through local
Shasta County newspapers and in legal publications in the State of
California. Contact Shasta County Support Services for any web-based notification systems that you might be able to access to receive alerts about employment possibilities.
Answer: If you have been arrested for a crime
allegedly committed in Shasta County and remain in custody, you will be
brought to court, usually within 48 hours of your arrest. If you were
released from custody before appearing in court, you were given a date, time and place to
appear in court for the first time. The first time you appear in court is called an
arraignment. When you appear in court for your arraignment, you will be
asked by the Court if you want to be represented by an attorney. If you
say yes, the Court will ask you if you can afford to hire an attorney
with your own money (sometimes you are asked this question by a Court
Collections Officer before the judge takes the bench). If you say
no, the Court will appoint the Public Defender's Office. A Deputy Public
Defender who handles arraignments will accept the appointment on behalf
of the Office. However, the Deputy Public Defender who appears at your arraignment may not be the attorney assigned to represent you. Once your case is opened
by the Public Defender's Office, a Deputy Public Defender will be
assigned to represent you by an administrator from the Public Defender's Office.
Answer: No. As a matter of law, in most
circumstances, attorneys from the Public Defender's Office cannot
provide legal assistance or advice to any person not appointed by
the Court. There are strong public policy reasons for not providing
legal advice outside of the attorney-client relationship. After the
Public Defender's Office has been appointed to represent you, an attorney from
the Office will be more than happy to discuss the facts of your case, and any possible legal defenses. If
you are out of custody, it is important that you schedule an
appointment to discuss your case with the attorney who has been
assigned to represent you. You
may schedule an appointment by calling (530) 245-7598.
Answer: Call the Public Defender's
Office at (530) 245-7598, or visit the public access window at the
Public Defender's Office at 1815 Yuba Street, Redding. Once you provide certain information to the Receptionist, he or she will be able to tell you which attorney has been assigned to your case. It is important to remember that the Deputy Public Defender who
was present during your arraignment may not necessarily be the Deputy
Public Defender who is assigned to represent you. It takes approximately two (2) court
days from your arraignment for your case to be assigned to a Deputy
Answer: Call the Public Defender's Office at (530) 245-7598, or visit the public access window at the Public Defender's Office at 1815 Yuba Street, Redding. Once you provide certain information to the Receptionist, he or she will be able to tell you the information about your next court date, if the court has updated the computer (it usually
takes two (2) court days from the date of your last appearance in court
before the computer is updated). Please remember that it's extremely helpful to have
your case number available when talking with someone at the Public
Answer: Call the Public Defender's Office at (530) 245-7598, or visit the public access window at the Public Defender's Office at 1815 Yuba Street, Redding. Once you provide certain information to the Receptionist, he or she will be able to tell you the information about your next court appearance, if the court has updated the computer (it usually takes two (2) court days from the date of your last appearance in court before the computer is updated). Please remember that it is extremely helpful to have your case number available when talking with someone at the Public Defender's Office.
Another way to locate your court or the Department where your case
will next be heard is to call the Deputy Public Defender who is
representing you in your case.
Answer: No. Under most circumstances, where you
have the constitutional right to an attorney at public expense, the
Court will appoint the Public Defender's Office to represent you. However, in some situations, an ethical "conflict" may arise that makes it impossible for the Public Defender's
Office to represent you or take care of your legal needs. A good
example of this might be where the Public Defender's Office is already
representing another defendant in the same case. If the Court has
appointed you to the Public Defender's Officer, but a "conflict" is later
declared, the Court will be notified, and
the Court will appoint an attorney from the Conflict Public Defender
panel to represent you. The attorneys employed by the Conflict Public Defender panel are
not employees of the Public Defender's Office, even though they are appointed by the court.
Answer: [This is just a brief overview of the system.]
The California Penal Code defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or by imprisonment in a state prison, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code. In most cases,
a felony prosecution starts with an arrest. Written police reports are
presented to the prosecutor who decides what
charge, if any, will be filed, and whether the charge will be a
felony, misdemeanor (which is a less serious crime punishable by
no more than one year in county jail, among other penalties), or infraction.
Once the person is arrested for a felony, he or she is booked at an
appropriate custody facility (e.g., juveniles are booked at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility, also called the JRF, while adults are booked at the county jail). For an adult, bail is set based on a predetermined schedule adopted by the
Superior Court. Juveniles cannot, as a matter
of law, have bail set--they are either released to a
parent or guardian, or they are detained until their first appearance in the juvenile court.
An adult will be released from custody if he or she posts bail. Bail can be posted in one of several ways:
cash, bail bond, or real property (pledged with court permission). Any questions about how the bail bond process
works should be sought from a licensed bail bondsman. In some cases, the Court may order a person released on his
or her 'own recognizance' (a fancy way of saying, "on a written
promise to appear"), or on supervised own recognizance (SOR), a special program operated by the Probation Department which uses the latest GPS technology to help monitor a defendant while he or she is released to the community. In even rarer cases, a person may be released from
custody if the police do not believe that sufficient evidence
supports continued detention. This is called a PC § 849(b)
release. If you are released under this last process, your arrest
will be considered and treated as a "detention only."
Felony charges may also be filed even though there has not been an
actual arrest. For example, the police may conduct a criminal investigation and identify a suspect. Rather than arrest the suspect, the police may, instead, present
their investigation to the prosecutor, who may file charges with
the Court. If this procedure is used, the Court will issue an arrest
warrant. The prosecutor may also present evidence of a crime to
the Grand Jury, which has the ultimate authority to return an indictment
(called a "True Bill") charging a person with a crime.
Next comes the arraignment, followed by a plea disposition (PD), and preliminary hearing (PX).
Answer: Prior to the scheduled preliminary hearing
(PX) in a felony case, the defendant (a person charged with a crime) will be required to appear in court for a
'plea disposition,' known as 'PD' in many legal documents. The PD is the where your assigned attorney and the prosecutor meet with a judge (in his or her chambers--a fancy way of saying office), along with a Probation Officer (in a felony case), to discuss the criminal charge(s) to see if a plea bargain can be reached by everyone involved. Although the
defendant is sitting in court during these "chamber" discussions, he or she will not
actually be present in the Judge's chambers. If the case does not
resolve at the PD, the case will continue to the preliminary
hearing, known as 'PX' in many legal documents.
Answer: A preliminary hearing (PX) is a court
proceeding where the prosecutor presents evidence to
convince a judge that there is reasonable cause to believe a felony
crime has been committed, and the person charged is the one who
committed it. The PX is not heard by a jury; and, at this point
in the criminal process, the prosecutor does not have to
prove the commission of a crime 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' The standard of proof at a PX is a 'strong suspicion.' The primary purpose of the PX is to weed out charges that cannot be supported by
competent evidence. At a PX, the prosecutor may
use police officers to present the statements of victims and witnesses
to convince the judge that there is enough evidence to justify a trial (this is called a "holding order"). Because the threshold
required to get a "holding order" is low, the vast majority of defendants charged with a felony crime are bound over for a jury trial.
Understandably, the PX can be terribly frustrating
for a defendant who wants to aggressively "fight" his or her charge(s) now,
rather than wait until a trial. Unfortunately, this is not
always possible, nor even wise. However, it is always important to
remember that delaying a vigorous defense does not mean defeat. An effective and
thorough legal defense takes time to prepare, and is
always worth the wait.
Answer: If the court issues a "holding order," in
most cases, the defendant will be immediately arraigned on what is called
an Information -- this is just a fancy word for the charging document
(i.e., the document that lists those specific crimes for which you are
being charged). If the defendant is not immediately arraigned, he or she
will be required to come back to court within fifteen (15) days to be
arraigned on an Information that the prosecutor must prepare and
file with the court.
Once the defendant is arraigned on an
Information, the case is set for trial. Generally speaking, the
trial must start no later than sixty (60) days from the date of the
arraignment on the Information, although felony cases frequently require more time so that the assigned Deputy Public Defender can properly prepare for trial, including receipt of a thorough investigation conducted by the Investigation Unit, if an investigation is warranted, consulting with an expert witness, if necessary, and
sifting through all of the physical evidence the prosecutor may want to present at trial.
Where legally and ethically permissible, the assigned attorney may
make various pre-trial motions in order to get the case dismissed, such as a motion to have certain evidence thrown out of
court (or suppressed) because the police acted improperly when seizing it, or a motion
to dismiss because the evidence presented at the PX was insufficient to support the "holding order." The assigned
attorney might also file motions to force the prosecutor to
disclose other items of evidence that may be helpful in proving the defendant is
not guilty of the charged crime(s).
While the case is ongoing, the defendant may decide that he or
she does not want to go to trial, but instead wants to settle the case.
Just as often, the prosecutor might offer the defendant a settlement, referred to as a "plea bargain," to settle the case for a less
serious charge, or agree to ask for reduced jail time at sentencing.
Settlement of a criminal case may occur at any time, from arraignment up
to, and even during, trial. Case settlement usually involves the defendant pleading "guilty" or "no contest" for an agreed sentence, or to a particular charge, with the dismissal of another charge(s).
Another kind of "settlement" may be possible in cases
involving a first-time non-violent drug offense. A defendant charged
with a first-time drug offense (only certain drug crimes are eligible) can seek to be referred to a drug education program called "Deferred Entry of Judgment--DEJ," or often called drug diversion; this is not a drug rehabilitation program where treatment is core concern. If a defendant successfully completes all required
drug education classes, he or she can have the criminal case dismissed. To participate in a DEJ program, a defendant must plead "guilty" to the charge. If a DEJ case is ultimately dismissed, the defendant may also petition the Court to have his or her criminal drug case SEALED (Penal Code §851.90), which is an order to remove or erase from public view or exposure any record related to the arrest and court proceedings.
Defendants not eligible for DEJ or drug diversion based on one or more prior drug convictions may, nevertheless, be eligible for drug treatment for non-violent drug possession
offenses. This rehabilitation program is called Proposition 36 (P36) which favors long-term drug treatment as an
alternative to jail. P36 is a drug rehabilitation program, not a drug education program. You may plead "no contest" to accept P36, or you may choose P36 treatment after a
Answer: Although an adult has the right to trial
by jury of his or her peers, juveniles do not have that same right. A jury trial consists of twelve (12) jurors,
collectively called the "trier of fact," who listen to testimony and look
at physical evidence presented by both the attorneys, and then decide what is true what is not true. The judge's job
during a jury trial is to make sure that everyone follows the law.
At a jury trial, the prosecutor's job is to convince the jury
that the defendant committed the crime with which he or she is
charged "beyond a reasonable doubt." All 12 jurors must agree that the
defendant is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." If the jury cannot agree on a verdict, it is declared hung, and a
"mistrial" will be declared by the Court. This could mean that the criminal case
may be tried again before a different jury, or the prosecutor, or
the court may dismiss the case without retrial, or a case may ultimately settle if all of the parties (the prosecutor, defense attorney, and defendant) agree, which must be approved by the Court.
Answer: Maybe. A defendant can tell the court that he
or she wants a court trial, also called a "bench trial,"
however, if the prosecutor objects, a jury trial will be
required. A court or bench trial simply means that the judge acts in
the place of a jury as the "trier of fact." Although some believe that it's unfair that the prosecutor can, in essence, 'veto' a
defendant's request for a court or bench trial, there are important constitutional
principles involved. The California Constitution guarantees the right
to a jury trial to ALL parties. It would be unfair to
deny the prosecutor a right to a jury trial if he or she felt it
was in the best interests of the People of the State of California.
Answer: The law says that all criminal actions are brought in the name of the "People of the State
of California." It is irrelevant (or doesn't matter) whether all the people agree or
disagree on each and every criminal case filed by a prosecutor. The fact is, the prosecutor represents the collective body, i.e., the "People" as
a whole, and acts as the People's representative to ensure that the community's best interests are protected.
Answer: Yes. Any person who is convicted after a
trial has the right to appeal the conviction. This process is started
when, at your request, the defense attorney files a notice
of appeal with the trial court. Usually, an attorney who specializes in appeals will be
appointed by the Appellate Court to represent the defendant on appeal.
Answer: The People are called the "Plaintiff," and
anyone opposing a plaintiff is called a "Defendant." In civil cases, the
parties may sometimes be known as "Petitioner" and "Respondent," or "Plaintiff" and "Defendant," depending on the type or character of the civil proceedings. These legal terms have
been used since the early Greek and Roman judicial systems.
Answer: [This is just a brief overview.] A
misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is punishable by fine and/or
imprisonment in a County jail for not longer than one (1) year.** Some
misdemeanors are punishable by no more than six (6) months in the county
jail, and yet a few others limit jail time to no more than ninety (90) days. Most
misdemeanor cases start with an arrest. However, unlike a felony
arrest, most persons arrested for a misdemeanor are detained for a
short period of time before they are released after signing a
written promise to appear in court (similar to a traffic ticket). Those persons not
released on a written promise to appear are usually released by
the jail after the booking process has been completed using the same general release procedure: a written promise to appear, called an own recognizance ("O.R.") release.
A report alleging criminal conduct is prepared by a law enforcement agency and submitted to the prosecutor who determines what, if any,
criminal charge, will be filed. Occasionally, instead of filing a misdemeanor
criminal charge, the prosecutor may choose to file a complaint alleging
an infraction. A person accused of an infraction cannot be sentenced
to jail, and is subject to a fine only.
Any person who has been arrested and then released from custody on a
written promise to appear must appear in court on the date and time listed on the citation or O.R. form. Failing to appear in court can, and usually will, result in a
new criminal charge (called a failure to appear) being filed, whereafter an arrest warrant will be issued by the Court. Unfortunately, it
is NOT an excuse to miss court, or be late for court because of work,
day care issues, oversleeping, school, having a sick child, etc.
It is not uncommon for a person to be arrested on a misdemeanor
charge, only to appear in court and find out that no charges have yet been
filed by the prosecutor. In these circumstances, criminal charges may never be filed because the
prosecutor believes that there is insufficient evidence to prove
a crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. In other instances, criminal charges are
still being evaluated by the prosecutor, and, as such, the person may be asked to
voluntarily return to court on a later date (usually somewhere around thirty (30) days).
If the person agrees to voluntarily return to Court, he or she will remain free from custody
on the written promise to appear or O.R. If the person doesn't voluntarily
agree to return to Court, he or she will be released by the Court, however, if the
prosecutor later decides to file a criminal charge, one of two things
will occur: (1) the person will be sent a surrender letter to turn himself
or herself into the jail for booking and release, or (2) an arrest warrant will be issued by the Court.
If a misdemeanor case has been filed by the prosecutor, the
first step in the process is the arraignment – this is where you may ask for an attorney.
CAUTION: There are a lot of cases heard in the
misdemeanor courts every week. Arraignment proceedings move very fast.
A person should NEVER be scared or intimidated to ask the Court to
appoint the Public Defender's Office so that you can speak to the Deputy Public Defender present in court handling the arraignment calendar BEFORE
you make a decision on whether or not it is in your best interest to accept the prosecutor's settlement offer. If the defendant wants to
accept the prosecutor's offer, great: enter a plea in open court and, in a
short while, the case will be done. However, a prudent defendant is a
cautious person. Because a criminal record can have unintended and
unknown consequences, before entering any type of plea in a criminal
case, a defendant is always better served in consulting, at a minimum,
with an attorney first.
** Effective January 1, 2015, a sentence of one (1) year in the county jail requires that one serve only 364 days, not 365 days. This change in the definition of what constitutes a "year" for confinement purposes was adopted by the California Legislature to shield some documented immigrants from discretionary deportation, exclusion from the United States, or denial of citizenship. See Penal Code §18.5.
Answer: Respectfully ask the Court to appoint the
Public Defender's Office. Remember, if the defendant can afford to hire an attorney
at his or her own expense (and the Court will make this inquiry), he or
she must actually arrange to have an attorney appear with him or her in court. However, if the defendant is not financially able to hire a private
attorney, don't hesitate in asking for assistance from the Public Defender's Office.
Answer: The criminal justice system is very
complex. There are numerous pit falls that can come back to haunt even
the most sophisticated defendant who is not trained in or who does not
understand the complexities of our legal system. This is what an attorney is trained to
do. He or she has many years of schooling and courtroom experience to
spot critical issues in a criminal case, identify possible defenses, explain
weaknesses in the evidence, determine whether or not the police may
have violated the constitution, and provide sound advice about the
future consequences of entering a plea. Use this expertise to guide
The ultimate decision about what to do with a case rests squarely in
the lap of the defendant. Although the
defense attorney will determine what legal strategies to use, the defendant, and only the defendant can determine whether or not to have a trial, or whether he or
she will accept a plea deal and enter a plea of guilty or no contest.
Answer: This is much like a plea disposition (PD). It is a chance for the attorneys to get together with a judge,
and a probation officer for a felony charge, to determine if some type
of settlement (plea bargain) can be reached without going to trial. By this
time, more detailed information about the criminal case has been developed by
the attorneys (usually through independent investigations) and a more
in-depth, detailed conversation will occur about the relative strengths
and weaknesses of the case. In many cases, the judge will give a
neutral opinion about the strength or weakness of the case which
assists the attorneys in determining the pro's and con's about actually
going to trial or settling the criminal case.
Answer: In a misdemeanor case, this is much like
a plea disposition held before a settlement conference. The
purpose of this hearing is to determine whether or not the case can be
settled without going to trial. Usually, more information about the
case has been developed by the attorneys and a more in-depth, detailed
conversation can occur related to the strength or weakness of witnesses
and potential evidence.
Answer: An arraignment is the first court
appearance a defendant makes on a criminal complaint. A traffic ticket, misdemeanor
complaint, felony complaint, felony information and felony indictment
are all types of complaints upon which an arraignment must be held. The purpose
of an arraignment is to inform the defendant about the charges filed against him or her, and to explain his or her constitutional
rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney. The court cannot proceed against the defendant until he or she has been legally arraigned.
An arraignment for a felony charge is handled a little differently from a misdemeanor case,
or even a traffic citation. If the defendant is charged with a felony, the court will
strongly advise him or her to seek the assistance of an attorney
(self-representation, although admirable, and clearly constitutional,
is not advisable – the defendant would be going head-to-head with an
experienced prosecutor who, most
probably, knows and understands the law much better than the defendant) before making any decisions about the case. Once an attorney is present in court, he or she will take necessary steps to move the case along while protecting the defendant's constitutional and statutory rights.
If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor crime, the Court, after
describing the nature of the charge, will usually have the prosecutor orally announce an offer to settle the case. If the defendant wants to accept the
prosecutor's offer, the Court will take a plea from the defendant and the case will be done.
However, if the defendant doesn't understand the proceedings, the offer,
or simply wants to discuss the case with an attorney, the defendant MUST
ask the court for an attorney – at this point, if the defendant can't afford to
hire an attorney, the Court will appoint the Public Defender's Office. If
there is any doubt in any defendant's mind about whether or not he or she should, at a
minimum, consult with an attorney from the Public Defender's Officer,
ALWAYS weigh in on the side of caution – talk to an attorney!
If the defendant is charged with an infraction only (e.g., a traffic
ticket), and the defendant wants to talk to an attorney, unfortunately, he
or she must actually hire an attorney at his or her own expense. The
Public Defender's Office cannot, as a matter of law, be appointed to, or represent, or even consult with the defendant charged only with an infraction.
At the arraignment, the defendant will be required to, or, if an attorney has been appointed, the attorney, will enter a plea (sometimes, if a
case is particularly complex or unusual, a plea will initially be
withheld by an attorney in order to provide sufficient time to gather more information about the charge; usually, however, a "not
guilty" plea is entered) to the complaint. If the defendant is in custody, an attempt will
be made to get him or her released or, at a minimum, to have his or
her bail reduced. At this point, the Court will set future appearance dates until the criminal case is finally concluded (these future dates
include such things as a plea disposition, preliminary hearing
[for felony complaints only], settlement conference, etc.).
Answer: Contact the Shasta
County Superior Court at (530) 245-6789. If you
discover that a warrant exists, ask the court what steps are
required of you to clear the warrant from the system and get the criminal case heard by a judge.
Answer: Yes. If you are charged with an offense
filed in Shasta County, and you are
unable to hire an attorney, the Public Defender's Office is
available to represent you, regardless of the state where you actually
Answer: Yes. The constitutional right to be
represented by an attorney applies to any natural person located in the
United States or any of its territories, regardless of nationality.
Answer: When necessary, the Public Defender's Office
will make arrangements to obtain the assistance of an interpreter to conduct non-court business.
There is no charge to the defendant or a witness for interpreter
assistance. It is critical that you inform your assigned attorney if
you don't understand the legal proceedings because your primary language
is other than English. Often, people think they can understand enough English to "get by." Unfortunately,
in court, there might be special meanings attached to the different legal
words or phrases commonly used which may make it particularly difficult for a limited English speaker to fully understand what's happening. Further, even for the most ardent
English speaker, court proceedings can be confusing; thus, a defendant or witness who uses English as a 'second-language' may find the court
proceedings particularly difficult or onerous to understand. If there is any doubt about an ability
to fully and fairly understand everything is being said in court to you or about
you, it is far safer to use the services of a certified court interpreter in your
Answer: Proposition 36, or P36, is a voter-approved initiative that puts an emphasis on drug rehabilitation, not incarceration. The entire purpose behind P36 is to therapeutically treat
those who have a drug addiction rather than fill-up our jails and
prisons. Thus, P36 is a drug treatment alternative to custody.
Answer: This may be a simple question, but,
unfortunately, it doesn't beget an easy answer. The easiest
answer is that most of those persons arrested for drug related offenses
may be eligible for P36 drug treatment. However, there
are far too many legal variables to the question which makes a succinct or simple answer fairly difficult. Suffice it to say, any defendant appointed
to the Public Defender's Office who qualifies for P36
drug treatment is so advised. The assigned attorney will
carefully explain all of the eligibility requirements involved with a grant of P36, and, if P36 is an available alternative, the assigned attorney will further explain the benefits
that attach to the successful completion of P36 drug treatment progam.
Answer: A juvenile (i.e., a person under the age of
18 years) who is charged with committing a crime, or who is habitually
truant, or who is otherwise incorrigible, comes within the jurisdiction of the
juvenile delinquency court. After a juvenile is arrested, he or she is
usually released to a parent or guardian, but occasionally the criminal allegation is so
serious that the juvenile will be detained in a juvenile facility until he or she first appears in
the juvenile court, which must occurs within 48 to 72 hours of the arrest.
For the most part, juvenile court proceedings are confidential and
are not open to the public. However, in limited circumstances the Juvenile Court Judge may open the courtroom to permit the public to attend the proceedings. Juvenile court
proceedings are different than adult court, and include special legal
terms not used elsewhere.
Many juveniles who are arrested never have to go to juvenile court because they are
handled informally by the Probation Department. These proceedings are
known as 654, referring to Welfare & Institutions Code Section 654.
Answer: The attorney-client privilege concerns all
confidential communications between attorney and client, as well as any
person hired or professionally consulted by the attorney. Thus,
investigators, experts, and others necessary to competently represent
a client are covered by the attorney-client privilege. Disclosure is
not an option; the privilege is sacrosanct. But, the privilege can be
pierced if the client fails to keep it confidential. Remember the old
saying, "Loose lips sink ships".
Many clients don't initially understand why his or her girlfriend or
boyfriend or family member cannot sit in on a conversation with his or her assigned attorney.
This is not permitted by the attorney in order to preserve the
attorney-client privilege. Likewise, nothing about the conversation can
be repeated to a third person (i.e., a person who is not critical to
the case) that was discussed between the client and the assigned attorney
without potentially waiving the attorney-client privilege.
The easiest way to envision this is to think about a priest. What
you tell a priest in confession is, literally, between you and that
priest. The same theory holds true for an attorney.
Answer: It depends. If you are serving a sentence in a state prison, or
are currently being supervised on parole or PRCS, you CANNOT vote or register to vote
until your supervision period has been discharged. If you are being held in a county jail
(or you are participating in any type of alternative custody, such as a work program or community service as a condition of felony probation (formal or
informal), you ARE permitted to both register to vote and vote in any
If you are serving a sentence in the county jail pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170(h) (known as an AB 109 sentence) for a felony conviction, it remains unresolved whether or not you are eligible to register to vote and to vote while serving that sentence, or while being supervised by the Probation Department, called Mandatory Supervision, or a split sentence in AB 109. As we learn more, we will update this answer.
Answer: Yes; modification includes early
termination. The ability to modify the terms and conditions of your probation, parole, or mandatory supervision rests solely
within the discretion of the Court. Any time after the imposition of
probation, or while being supervised on parole or mandatory supervision, you may petition the Court to modify any existing terms of that supervision. In your petition, you must demonstrate to the Court that "good cause" exists to modify a supervisory term. Good cause means more than simply being good. You must convince the Court why it should modify a condition of, or terminate supervision. In some cases involving minor misdemeanor convictions,
after you have paid all of your fines and fees in full, and
after having successfully completed a portion of your supervisory period, the Court, upon application, may grant a
request to terminate your misdemeanor supervision.
you have any questions about whether you should attempt to have any terms and conditions of your
period of supervision modified, including the possibility of having the supervisory period terminated early, it is always best to talk to an attorney.