Santee Court (East County Regional Center)

The East County Regional Center (ECRC) is a courthouse of the San Diego Superior Court of California. The courthouse handles cases involving family law, civil harassment, elder abuse, adult abuse, juvenile dependency and criminal matters. There are seven departments at work in the courthouse, and they are:
• Restraining orders
• Civil IC Department 14
• Criminal filing/records
• Family law filing/records
• Juvenile dependency
• Small claims advisor
• Traffic court information

The Santee Court is located on 250 East Main Street, El Cajon, CA 92020. The courthouse is open on Mondays through Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The courthouse operates solely upon state funding. Individuals must bring a form of identification to the courthouse. The Santee Court handles felony and misdemeanor crimes. If an indigent defendant does not have a lawyer, then the judge has the responsibility of appointing a lawyer for him or her.

Criminal Hearings and Appearances

There are several types of criminal hearings that the Santee Court handles. These include arraignments, preliminary hearings, motions, sentencing and probation hearings. The court also handles motions to assess the competency or insanity of a defendant. If a defendant is found to be incompetent, he or she may not be able to withstand trial. The court may prolong the proceedings until the defendant regains competency.

The courthouse maintains local rules in regards to criminal proceedings, and it is important for defendants to be aware of these rules. Hiring a lawyer can be beneficial since local lawyers tend to be familiar with the Santee Court rules.

Under the court rules for criminal proceedings, the clerk has the responsibility of assigning a settlement conference and trial readiness conference as dictated by the court. A defendant who is in custody does not have these options.

Being Prepared for One’s Criminal Case at the Santee Court

When one is held in custody, he or she has the right to a hearing within 48 hours. After 48 hours, the judge will determine whether there are any reasons to continue to detain the defendant. If there is no probable cause to detain the defendant, then he or she will be released on his or her own recognizance. The judge also sets the amount of bail at this time. The defendant will be advised of his or her right to receive a court-appointed attorney if he or she is indigent.

Every defendant has the constitutional right to refuse to have counsel. Some defendants believe that they can effectively present their own case in the Santee Court, and they provide a waiver of counsel for this reason. The judge must ensure that a waiver of counsel is knowing and voluntary.

The Process of Securing Bail

When the judge sets the bail amount, a defendant will then need to find a way to obtain that bail amount. Not many defendants have the cash on hand to immediately afford a bail payment. These defendants may secure a bail bond by posting collateral at a local bail bond office. Friends and family members may also offer collateral or cash for a bond so that the defendant can be released.

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