Gilroy Court (Santa Clara Courthouse)

Gilroy Court, Santa Clara Courthouse, is part of the Superior Court of California. Its criminal division handles cases in which a person faces charges for having broken a law and thus committed a crime. Criminal cases vary from a fairly minor offense such as speeding to a charge of murder. In California, a crime is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony is a serious offense, such as murder, rape, or robbery, with a punishment of time spent in a state prison or death. A misdemeanor, the lesser offense, may be charged for petty theft, drunk driving, or driving with a suspended license. It usually means a fine, but is also punished by time spent in a county jail instead of a state penitentiary.

Besides felony and misdemeanor charges, the Criminal Division of the Santa Clara Courthouse handles numerous aspects of criminal law and behavior. Appeals are presented here if a person requests a higher court, known as an appellate court, to review a decision. Copies of public records from a criminal case are available, some online and others only given in person. Paying fines are handled here as are FAQs, frequently asked questions about such matters as DUIs, warrants, and legal counsel or public defenders. If a person does not have enough money to pay his or her bail, a property bond can be posted. It pledges the value of some actual property to the court as a guarantee that he or she will be in jail at the time directed.

The Gilroy Court also handles the bail bond process. The bail bond guarantees that a defendant will appear in court at the appointed time. If not, an arrest call goes out and the bond money is forfeited. A bail bondsman is the person who pledges the bond money, called a surely bond, if the defendant does not appear. The fee for a bail bond is usually about 10 percent of the total bail amount and is non-refundable. California’s Department of Insurance sets the charges for all bail bonds, and the bond itself is good for only one year.

Besides the bail bondsman, which is the most common way to get out of jail, there are three other release-from-jail methods. A cash bond means the total amount of the bond is given to the court in cash. An O.R. (release on own recognizance) is sometimes allowed to those individuals who pose a very slight risk, such as someone charged with a non-violent offense or has no criminal record. A Cite Out (release on citation) works much like a traffic ticket. The person gets the ticket, or citation, but is never actually placed in jail and must show up on his/her own at the appointed time in court.

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