Santa Cruz Court (Santa Cruz County Superior Court)

The Santa Cruz Courthouse is a division of the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. The courthouse is located at 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. The superior court is divided into the following divisions:
• Civil cases
• Criminal cases
• Family law
• Juvenile cases
• Probate cases
• Small claims
• Traffic infractions

The courthouse operates on Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The courthouse is closed on every third Tuesday afternoon of the month. The courthouse is also closed on every Friday. The stated mission of the Santa Cruz Superior Court is to “preserve and protect the rights and ideals of society through the interpretation and enforcement of law.” The court also aims to ensure equal access to the courts by providing quality service and treatment of all individuals with respect and dignity.

The criminal division of the Santa Cruz Courthouse handles felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. The Santa Cruz Division only accepts filing of criminal cases and does not handle traffic cases. Those who have payments to make for traffic cases should direct their payments to the Watsonville Division.

Types of Hearings

There are four different types of hearings that the Santa Cruz Courthouse handles for criminal cases. These hearings include arraignment, the pretrial hearing, preliminary hearing and the trial. The trial may be brought before a judge or a jury.

At the arraignment, the defendant will be advised of his or her Constitutional rights. The defendant has the opportunity to enter a plea at this time. By entering a plea, the defendant does not waive his or her right to legal counsel.

The pretrial hearing entails a conference between the prosecutor and defense counsel in regards to a settlement of the case. The prosecutor and defense counsel may negotiate the terms of a plea agreement at this time.

The preliminary hearing entails a felony hearing by a judicial officer. At this type of hearing, the officer will decide whether there is a sufficient amount of evidence to require the defendant to be brought to trial.

At the trial, evidence is presented before a judge and jury. The judge or jury will have the ultimate determination as to whether a defendant is guilty or innocent.

Changing a Date

Individuals should be aware that it is not possible to change a court date for a criminal case. An individual should speak with his or her attorney about these concerns.
Applying for Bail Bonds

The judge has the discretion to determine the appropriate bail amount for a defendant in a criminal case. The bail amount is typically much higher for a felony than it is for a misdemeanor. A defendant may ask friends or family members to post bail. Otherwise, the defendant may offer collateral to a bail bond company and secure bail in that manner. The bail bond company will post bail with the collateral and may charge a certain percentage of the bail amount as a fee.

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