Each of the 58 counties within the state of California has its own superior court, and those courts hear cases on a variety of civil and criminal issues. The large population of California requires a significant court system, as well as an extensive jail, bail bonds, and corrections system. Over 370 superior court locations exist in California, and the state sees around 8 million cases filed each year. Overseeing these 8 million cases are 1,400 judges who are part of the California Superior Court system.
Judges and the California Superior Court System
Depending on the size of the county in which a superior court operates, judges may preside over a variety of different cases, or their courtroom may be filled with a very specific kind of case. For example, the size and scope of the superior court system in Los Angeles have made it necessary to assign judges and staff to specialized departments.
For example, one judge may deal with civil matters like small claims debt collection. Another judge may handle criminal issues like drunk driving cases. For the more than 2.5 million cases heard in the California Superior Court system each year in Los Angeles, each judge in the system is responsible for presiding over 4,000 matters each year.
However, the workload for judges in smaller counties has led to a more general approach for case type and load for each judge. Counties that don’t have large populations often have just a few Superior Court judges and commissioners. Overall, California’s Superior Court serves over 34 million people each year.
Superior Courts as Trial Courts
Within California, the Superior Court is considered a trial court, and this means judges may oversee a jury and court trial where evidence is presented, and a decision is rendered. Superior Court hears all civil cases that deal with topics like family law, juvenile offenses, and probate issues. In addition, the Superior Court also handles small claims cases, as well as civil cases that concern an amount of $25,000 or less.
The Superior Court system also handles criminal cases that range from felonies that could require a defendant spends time in jail or works with a bail bonds company to be let out of jail until an appearance is necessary for hearings or a trial date. Criminal cases heard by the court may include everything from felonies to misdemeanors, as well as minor infractions like traffic tickets.
In addition, the court also hears appeals for civil cases and minor offenses like misdemeanors and traffic tickets. Some cases filed for an appeal head toward the Court of Appeal. Those cases include felony cases and civil cases that exceed $25,000, as well as family law, juvenile, and probate cases.
Criminal Cases in the Superior Court System
For cases filed in criminal court that may feature bail or potential jail time, there are eight potential steps during which a defendant may be allowed to remain at home on bail. A criminal case begins with an arrest and will proceed to an arraignment where the defendant tells the court whether he or she is pleading guilty or innocent. If the case is a felony, a preliminary hearing will be held, and the case will proceed to sentencing in the case of a guilty plea.
If a not guilty plea is entered, the court will entertain pretrial motions before arriving at the trial date. After completion of the trial a verdict will be read and a sentencing hearing will be arranged and performed. The likelihood of a defendant being offered bail depends on a variety of factors like the defendant’s criminal history and his or her standing in the community.
Redwood City Court
San Francisco Court
San Jose Court
San Rafael Court
Santa Cruz Court
Santa Rosa Court
Yuba City Court
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