San Francisco Court (San Francisco Superior Court)

San Francisco, California, is home to the San Francisco Superior Court and all its many arms of the la;w. The Civil Division handles the largest part of the court’s work. It is involved with non-criminal lawsuits between individuals and/or corporations. It conducts civil trials, hears appeals and probate matters, and keeps records for the county and state. It is home to the Small Claims Division, which tries to resolve disputes both quickly and inexpensively. There are no attorneys to represent the litigants, and claims are generally limited to $5,000.

The San Francisco Superior Court is also recognized nationally for what are known as problem-solving, or collaborative justice, courts. Judicial officers work with families and individuals suffering from mental problems, substance abuse, and other social concerns. The main idea is to keep such problems from occurring and to keep individuals from re-entering the state jail system.

In addition to handling legal problems within the state, the San Francisco Court also handles the business of bail bonds. These are guarantees that a person accused of a crime and released from jail will appear in court at a specified time. A licensed bondsman pledges the bail money in what is known as a surety bond as the guarantee. The charge for this service is about 10 percent of the total amount, and it is non-refundable. The rates for bail bonds are set by the California Department of Insurance, and all bonds are good for one year.

What does the court do if a person with a bail bond does not show up at the stipulated date? The first steps are to post an arrest warrant for the mission person and forfeit the bail bond money. In the event that he or she cannot be found after a specified period, a bail bondsman may be sent to locate and arrest the person. This so-called bounty hunter is legally licensed and usually works for or owns the bonding agency. The longer the person stays missing, the higher grow the court costs.

In the San Francisco Court, as in all U.S. courts that handle bail bonds, this is the most common way to get out of jail. There are, however, three other methods of release. A cash bond may be presented to the court in exchange for release. It must cover the total amount of posted bond money. A first-time offender who has no criminal record and has not committed a violent crime may be considered only a slight risk and may be granted an O.R. release on own recognizance. A person may also be given a citation known as a Cite Out. It is handled much like a traffic ticket, meaning that the charged person has to appear in court at a specified date but never actually goes to jail.

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