California Courts

This is what your bail bond process is all about – attending all of your scheduled court appearances? This is a general overview of what to expect with the court process. If you have retained a private attorney, rely on their advice and direction about what to expect during your court experience as they are the experts.

Many appearances can be handled by private council without you needing to attend. If you do not have an attorney, or cannot afford an attorney, you still need to show up at court at the scheduled date and time. Depending on the offense, you may need to attend more than one court hearing after your first appearance.

The first hearing is the “arraignment” where a Judicial Officer informs the defendant or attorney of the alleged charges and constitutional rights. You will be asked by the Judicial Officer to enter a plea of:

* Not Guilty- the defendant states that they did not commit the crime. The case will be set for a future hearing.
* Guilty- the defendant admits that they did commit the crime.
* No Contest- the defendant will not contest the charge. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea except the conviction cannot be used against the defendant in a civil suit.

This is when you need to consult an attorney for their professional judgment on what you should do.

Attending Court

When bonded out, you were assigned a court date where you will be “on calendar” for a hearing that day. Your appearance is mandatory and Failing to Appear (FTA) may result in a warrant for your arrest and the court ordering your bond to be forfeited. Often we are asked “can I change that scheduled court date?” The short answer is “No.” If it is your first court date after your arrest, often you can go to court earlier, but under no circumstances can you go to court after the scheduled date. On your scheduled court date locate Court Calendar (alphabetic listing of defendants posted on the wall or video monitor). It will list your name and your courtroom assignment. Allow enough time to check the calendar and still be at the assigned courtroom no later than the scheduled time on your paperwork. The door may be closed and locked It may not be unlocked and opened, but be ready. Once you enter the courtroom, they may take “roll call” right away. If so, pay attention and let them know you are there, even if you have an attorney and they have not shown up yet. When they “call your case” walk forward and stand where directed, even if you have an attorney and they are not in the courtroom yet. Advice the court your attorney is not there yet and they should continue the hearing until he arrives. Otherwise, listen to the court and proceed as directed. Be sure to call our office after your appearance and advise us of what happened.