Santa Cruz Court
Santa Cruz is the seat of the County of Santa Cruz, California, and its largest city with an estimated 2013 population of 63,000. About 75 miles south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is part of the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland Combined Statistical Area. If you or a loved one are in trouble with the law, you’ll need to find a good Santa Cruz Bail Bonds company.
As a county seat, Santa Cruz is a venue of one of California’s 58 trial courts of general jurisdiction, the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Cruz. California once had superior county and inferior local courts, each with its own subject matter jurisdiction. In June 1998, California voters passed Proposition 220, which permitted each county to merge its courts into a unified superior court. By February 2001, all 58 counties had unified their trial courts.
The Santa Cruz Court
The Superior Court for the County of Santa Cruz maintains courthouses at two locations: 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 and 1 Second Street, Watsonville, CA 95076. The court allocates its business among divisions corresponding to substantive areas of state law:
- The Civil Division in at the Santa Cruz Courthouse hears, processes, and disposes of all civil matters and disputes except small claims cases, which the court hears and decides at the Watsonville Courthouse.
- The Criminal Division presides over felonies, misdemeanors, and some infractions. Criminal cases proceed only at Santa Cruz, where the county jail is situated.
- The Family Law Division, located at the Watsonville Courthouse, handles family-related matters: Divorce, paternity, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, adoptions, minor emancipations, and domestic violence.
- Restraining order requests are filed and heard at the Watsonville Courthouse. Initial but no later filings may be at the Santa Cruz Courthouse. Restraining order requests must be filed with the clerk no later than 10:00 AM for same-day consideration. All hearings take place at Watsonville. The clerk assigns the hearing date and time at the initial filing.
- The Juvenile Division is for cases of children under 18 who violate any law or who suffer abuse or neglect. Both the Juvenile Delinquency Court for alleged offenders and the Juvenile Dependency Court for the abused and neglected are at the Watsonville Courthouse.
- The Probate Division administers and regulates conservatorships, guardianships, powers of attorney, minor and compromises, and trusts.
- The Small Claims Division operates a special court to decide disputes quickly and inexpensively for damages of $10,000 or less. The Small Claims Court does not allow attorney representation. For legal help and advice, the court provides Small Claims Advisors to give both sides of disputes procedural guidance and instructions for filling out court forms.
- The Traffic Division permits defendants to contest citations in writing without making personal court appearances. This “trial by written declaration” is available for infraction violations of the vehicle code or local ordinances adopted under the code. Defendants must complete and submit court forms by the due dates on their courtesy notices to be eligible for trials by written declaration.
The court offers online resources to assist patrons with payments of traffic citations and fines, jury duty status checks and service postponement requests, retrieval of case information, and filings for parties to civil cases. Electronic filing became mandatory for civil cases in August 2016. There is no date nor plan yet for electronic filing in criminal cases.
Code of Courthouse Conduct
The court has posted several suggestions to help courthouse visitors accomplish their business without unnecessary trouble with law enforcement and court security officers:
- Dress neatly and conservatively, business casual at least, business formal preferably. Serious business takes place at court, and suitable dress conveys a proper attitude of courtesy and respect that impress the authorities favorably. Never wear provocatively lewd, flamboyant, or indecent clothing, jewelry, or paraphernalia.
- Be punctual for scheduled hearings and appointments. Allow more than enough time for delays in driving through traffic or in entering the courthouse through security checkpoints. If delay becomes unavoidable, notify the court clerk of the situation before the scheduled time.
- Visitors may not eat food, chew gum, drink beverages, or smoke any substance in any courthouse interior area.
- Turn off cell phone or pager ringers inside the courthouse.
- Parties should address the court and witnesses should testify loudly and slowly so their remarks and testimony can be clearly audible and intelligible.
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