San Diego County Criminal Court

San Diego County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in San Diego County. See below for more information about criminal cases in San Diego County.

Who is the prosecutor for San Diego County?

Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for San Diego County criminal cases will either be a representative of San Diego County or a representative from California. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.

Defendant Sentencing

At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.

San Diego County Criminal Court

San Diego County Criminal Court

Jury Deliberations in San Diego County

In San Diego County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.

Where will San Diego County criminal case hearings take place?

Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of San Diego County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in San Diego County.

San Diego County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In San Diego County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in San Diego County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In San Diego County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.

What if I can’t afford an attorney?

The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.

Right to Jury Trial

For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.

I need help for my San Diego County criminal case

The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the San Diego County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for San Diego County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.

Required Court Appearances in San Diego County

Any required court appearances in San Diego County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.

What is a Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.

What is the Burden of Proof?

The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Appealing a guilty verdict

A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.

San Diego County Criminal Court Locations

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Central Courthouse

    Address: 220 West Broadway, San Diego CA 92101
    Phone: 619-450-5799 (Family Support)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – East County Regional Center

    Address: 250 East Main Street, El Cajon CA 92020
    Phone: 619-456-4118 (Juvenile Dependency)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Family Law Courthouse

    Address: 1555 6th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
    Phone: 619-450-7777

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Hall of Justice

    Address: 330 West Broadway, San Diego CA 92101
    Phone: 619-450-7275

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Juvenile Courthouse

    Address: 2851 Meadowlark Drive, San Diego CA 92123
    Phone: 858-634-1616 (Traffic Juvenile)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Kearny Mesa Courthouse

    Address: 8950 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego CA 92123
    Phone: 858-634-1800 (Traffic)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Madge Bradley Courthouse

    Address: 1409 4th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
    Phone: 619-450-7676 (Probate)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – North County Regional Center

    Address: 325 South Melrose Drive, Vista CA 92081
    Phone: 760-201-8500 (Traffic Minor Offenses)

  • San Diego County Superior Court – Ramona Branch

    Address: 1428 Montecito Road, Ramona CA 92065
    Phone: 760-738-2400 Fax: 760-738-2404

  • San Diego County Superior Court – South County Regional Center

    Address: 500 3rd Avenue, Chula Vista CA 91910
    Phone: 619-746-6200

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