San Luis Obispo County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in San Luis Obispo County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in San Luis Obispo County.
Who can help me in San Luis Obispo County?
For general information about your case the San Luis Obispo County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mandatory Appearances in San Luis Obispo County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in San Luis Obispo County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.
San Luis Obispo County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in San Luis Obispo County will take place at the San Luis Obispo County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the San Luis Obispo County Criminal Court Locations.
Who is the prosecutor for San Luis Obispo County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for San Luis Obispo County criminal cases will either be a representative of San Luis Obispo 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.
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.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
San Luis Obispo County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In San Luis Obispo County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in San Luis Obispo 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 Luis Obispo 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.
A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In San Luis Obispo County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
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.
The Right to Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.
San Luis Obispo County Criminal Court Locations
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court – Civil Court Operations
Address: 1035 Palm Street, Room 385, San Luis Obispo CA 93408
Phone: 805-781-5677 (Probate)
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court – Criminal Court Operations
Address: 1050 Monterey Street, Room 220, San Luis Obispo CA 93408
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court – Juvenile Services Center
Address: 1065 Kansas Avenue, San Luis Obispo CA 93408
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court – Paso Robles Branch
Address: Phone: 805-237-3079 (Civil, Family Law, Small Claims)
Phone: 805-781-5696 (Traffic)
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court – Veterans Memorial Building
Address: 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo CA 93401