Modoc County Court Divisions

Modoc County Court Divisions Below is a list of the divisions of courts that are present at the Superior Court of California in Modoc County. With each is a phone number where you can reach the court division and what each division does. Juvenile Court Juvenile matters are confidential Juvenile cases involve juvenile dependency and juvenile delinquency. Court employees are available to assist you, but are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. Only persons with a legal right to do so may receive information regarding juvenile cases, such as the juvenile's mother, father or legal guardian. Information regarding juvenile matters is confidential and cannot be given over the phone. Transfer-in hearings are generally held on each Monday beginning at 1:00 pm. For further information, please call the Juvenile Division at (530) 233-6516 ext. 1213. Traffic Court Traffic If your citation is for a misdemeanor violation and/or indicates a mandatory appearance, you must appear the Superior Court by 2:00 PM on your appearance date shown on the bottom of your traffic ticket. Failure To Appear If you fail to appear or pay your traffic ticket by your appearance date, the court will take one or more of the following actions: 1. Issue a warrant for your arrest 2. Notify the DMV to hold, or refuse to renew, your driving privileges 3. Impose a civil assessment of $300.00 4. Refer your case to a private collection agency for further action Traffic School If you qualify, you may attend an online class by searching the DMV's official look-up system at www.dmv.ca.gov/olinq2/welcome.do to find a DMV licensed Internet or Home Study course. * * * Remember * * * You must provide your traffic school 'certificate of completion' to our office within 90 days from the due date of your fine amount. Proof Of Correction Driver's license, insurance, vehicle registration, and mechanical violations will be dismissed by the court if proof of correction (POC) along with the $25.00 POC FEE is presented to the court by mail or in person by the due date. Proof of correction for equipment violations can be obtained by having a law enforcement officer sign off your copy of the citation. A clerk may certify insurance violations at the court. Driver's license and registration violations may be certified at an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or presented to the court. NOTE: It is your responsibility to present or mail proof of correction to the court along with the POC FEE. How Much Is My Ticket? A courtesy notice will be sent to the address listed on your ticket. The notice will state the amount you owe (bail), whether or not a court appearance is required and the date by which you must take care of your ticket. If you have not received a notice five days prior to the appearance date at the bottom of your ticket, please call the traffic division at (530) 233-6516 ext. 1213. If you received a ticket for a mechanical violation, you may be able to pay a reduced amount if the mechanical problem is fixed. The notice will show a reduced amount if that applies. How Do I Plead Not Guilty? If you wish to plead not guilty by mail, you must either: 1. Schedule a Court Trial date, or 2. Request a Trial by Declaration. You will be required to post bail in either situation. If you are charged with an infraction, you may plead not guilty and request a trial by declaration by sending the total bail amount to the court five days prior to the appearance date. Please sign the back of your courtesy notice requesting a trial by declaration. The clerk will mail declaration forms to you. You will not have to appear in court and your bail will be held in a trust account until your case is decided. If you wish to plead not guilty in person, you must appear in court promptly at 2:00 PM on the appearance date at the bottom of your ticket. Criminal Court Criminal The Criminal Department files, processes, and maintains criminal records of misdemeanor and felony filings for Modoc County. FAQ What is a Criminal Case? A criminal case begins when a person is arrested, and charges are filed through the District Attorney or by an agency such as Modoc County Sheriff’s Department or Alturas Police Department. In all criminal cases, the defendant (person accused of a crime) is presumed to be innocent. That means he or she may not be convicted of a crime unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What is an Infraction? An infraction is an offense punishable by a fine only, and which the law declares not to be a misdemeanor or felony. A person charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury, and is not entitled to be represented by court-appointed counsel. What is a Felony? A felony is a crime punishable with death or by imprisonment in state prison. A defendant charged with a felony has a right to trial by jury or by Court, and has a right to be represented by an attorney at all proceedings. What is a Misdemeanor? A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment in the county jail, a fine or both. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you have a right to a trial by jury or by Court and to be represented by an attorney at all proceedings. What is Bail? Bail allows a defendant to be released from custody upon the posting of a bond, case deposit, or other security deemed necessary to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court. What is an Arraignment? The arraignment consists of reading the complaint or citation to the defendant and asking him/her whether he/she pleads guilty or not guilty. What is a Preliminary Hearing? A preliminary hearing is a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the case. What is a Pretrial Conference? The purpose of the pretrial conference is to discuss the possibility of disposing of the case prior to trial or to discuss measures to facilitate the expeditious handling of the trial. Am I entitled to a Jury Trial? A person charged with a misdemeanor or felony is entitled to a jury trial. A trial by court (judge only) is held for those that are charged with infractions or those defendants who waive their right to a jury trial. Do I have to appear in Court? Court appearances are mandatory on criminal misdemeanor and felony cases and can be on some infractions. You must appear at the Court on the date and time as directed on your release paper or arraignment letter. Failure to appear may result in a warrant for your arrest. On your court date, please report to the Clerk’s Office. Be prepared to provide identification and information on the arrest or alleged offense, including jail release paperwork, notice to appear, bail or bond receipts, or arraignment letter. How do I pay my Fine? All fines are due by the date the judge specifies in court. Your paperwork will reflect the amount owed and the due date. If you do not pay or set up a payment plan by the due date, your case will be referred to the Collections Department and a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Payments may be sent by mail, in person, or paid through a work program referral by the Court. If you are requesting a work program, you must make arrangements to appear in Court. We currently accept cash, personal checks, money orders, and credit/debit cards. Please do not mail cash. The Court only accepts U.S. Funds. Please make checks payable to Modoc Superior Court and include you case number on the check. What happens if I Fail to Appear or Pay a Fine? If you fail to appear in court or pay a fine as promised/ordered, the Court will order and issue a warrant for your arrest. Further, you may be punished by jail and/or a fine, regardless of the disposition of the original charge. In an effort to facilitate the effective collection of fines, fees, and assessments ordered or authorized by the court, your case may be referred to a collection agency. Section 1214.1(a) of the Penal Code states, “In addition to any other penalty in infraction, misdemeanor, or felony cases, the court may impose a civil assessment of up to three hundred dollars ($300).” What help is provided to the Victim(s) of a crime? For information about assistance available to victims and victim restitution, please call the Modoc County Victim Witness Advocate at (530) 233-3311. How do I get Court-Appointed Counsel? You may request Court-Appointed Counsel from the judge at your first appearance in court. The judge will require that you fill out a financial declaration and determine if you qualify. At the end of your case, a hearing will be held to see if you must reimburse the court for some or all of the cost of the Court-Appointed Counsel fees. My friend of family member is in custody, can I speak to them while they are in court? No, you may be charged with a misdemeanor if you attempt to speak or motion to anyone in custody. How do I find out about someone who is in custody? Contact the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department at (530) 233-4416, or stop in at 102 S. Court Street, Alturas, CA. Can I get copies of criminal records? The court clerks maintain an index of filings and a record of dispositions. Court staff cannot look up any criminal records over the telephone. To get information about or copies of documents from a criminal case, you can write to or visit the clerk’s office where your case was heard. If you make your request in writing, be sure to include:  A check made out to “Modoc Superior Court” in the appropriate· amount as stated on the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule. For a certified copy of the document, you will need to pay an extra $25.00 fee plus $0.50 per copy per page (two-sided pages count as two pages).  A stamped envelope that the clerk can use to return the· documents. (The envelope must be addressed to you.)  The defendant’s name, first and last·  The case number, if known·  The name of the documents you want copied· Civil Court Civil Civil cases involve claims by one party or individual against another for wrongs committed or damages done. FAQ What is a Civil Case? A civil case is a lawsuit in which one party sues another party. A civil case can be filed by a party to: 1. Enforce a contract or agreement 2. Collect damages to their person or property 3. Recover money or property 4. Protect a civil right Civil matters include small claims, civil matters, conservatorships, probate, family law, adoption, and juvenile compromises. What is the difference between Limited and Unlimited Civil Cases? Generally, civil lawsuits are divided into three categories, which are based on the amount of money involved in the lawsuit. Examples of cases that are generally excluded from this are unlawful detainer, juvenile, civil harassment, probate, and family matters. When the dollar amount is under $10,000, it is usually referred to as a Small Claims case. When the dollar amount is less than or equal to $25,000, it is referred to as a limited jurisdiction civil case. When the dollar amount exceeds $25,000, it is referred to as an unlimited jurisdiction civil case. Where can I get help with my civil case? The court staff is available to provide assistance. Please contact our Self Help Facilitator, Wendy Dier, at (530) 233-2008 for further assistance. How do I file documents? Please make sure all documents are signed and dated. You will need to file with the clerk the original set of documents that are organized, two hole punched, and stapled, along with the appropriate number of copies. Please be sure all copies of documents are organized and stapled. The clerk cannot accept copies that are not organized and stapled. Please check the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule to be sure you have included the proper filing fees or an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs. Can I fax documents for filing? Yes, you can file documents via fax at the rate of $1.00 per page. The Court still requires the original signature, so original documents together with the appropriate number of copies must be mailed or brought by the court along with the fax filing fee. What if I cannot afford to pay the filing fee? Fee Waivers are available for qualifying individuals. Please review the Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs for eligibility guidelines. Does the court provide interpreters? Yes, please contact the Civil Division at (530) 233-6516 ext. 1212 for assistance. Can I get copies from a case file? Yes, you can request copies through the clerk’s office, either in person or by mail. The average response time is one week from the date the court receives your request. If you request copies by mail, please include specific information on what it is that you need, the case number, case name, and payment. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive copies through the mail. Copies are $0.50 per page (double-sided sheet equals 2 pages). If you need a document certified, the cost is $25.00 in addition to the per copy fee. Payment may be made by check, cash or money order. When is the Law and Motion calendar heard? The law and motion calendar is generally heard every Monday at 10:00 am. Please call the Civil Division at (530) 233-6516 ext. 1212 for additional information. What if I cannot appear in person? You can make arrangements through Court Call at 1-888-88COURT (1- 888-882-6878) to make an appearance by phone. Telephonic appearances begin every Monday at 11:00 am. Small Claims Court Small Claims Small claims cases are lawsuits that do not exceed $10,000 and are resolved quickly and inexpensively with relatively simple and informal rules. General Information In Small Claims court, disputes are settled in a fair, quick and inexpensive manner. You may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court; however, you may not have a lawyer represent you in court, but you may have an attorney to represent you in the appeal. The place to file a Small Claims case is at 205 S. East Street, Alturas, CA. The court clerks can answer many kinds of questions and provide the forms you need; however, they are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. Further information and publications are available at the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Courts Self-Help Center located at www.courts.ca.gov. If you choose Small Claims court to resolve a dispute and you are the plaintiff, you give up the right to have another court review the Small Claims judge's decision. In other words, the plaintiff has no right of appeal. Therefore, if you lose, that is probably the end of the case. However, the person or entity you sue (defendant) may appeal the judge's ruling. When such an appeal is filed, the entire case will be heard again. If you are the plaintiff and a Claim of Defendant is filed (the defendant sues you on the same case) and you have a judgment against you, you may file an appeal on that decision. If you are filing a Small Claims Appeal out of the county, you may obtain the forms from the California Courts Self Help Center - Forms. A check off list and forms are also available at California Courts Self Help Center - Small Claims Forms, including the fee waiver application and order Monetary Limit The Small Claims court has a monetary limit, called a jurisdictional limit, on the amount of money damages that can be claimed. The most "a natural person" can ask for is $10,000; however, you are limited to filing no more than two claims anywhere in the State of California for over $2,500 in one calendar year. You may file an unlimited amount of claims for $2,500 or less. Corporations and other entities (such as government entities) cannot ask for more than $5,000. Service The party who has filed the case must cause the legal documents to be served upon the other party. If this service is not done correctly, the court will require the plaintiff to re-serve the papers correctly before the case can be heard in front of a judge. The following instructions will assist you in proceeding with your claim; failure to comply with these instructions may result in a delay or in your claim being dismissed.  Personal Service: This must be completed· at least 15-days prior to the court date if the defendant is in Modoc County or at least 20-days prior if the defendant is outside of Modoc County.  Substituted Service: Sometimes it is not possible to locate the· actual party named on the legal document. In this case, it is legal and proper to leave the claim with another adult at the defendant's home, or with someone who is in charge at the defendant's usual place of business. These documents must be in an envelope bearing the name of the defendant, and the server must state that the papers are for a legal case. In this situation, the documents must be served at least 25-days prior to the court date if the defendant is in Modoc County or at least 30-days prior to the court date if the defendant is outside Modoc County. At this point, the person who served the documents must also mail the second copy of the claim to the defendant at the exact same address where the first copy was left. This is to be done with first class mail, postage pre-paid. No other form of mail is permitted.  Marshal or Sheriff in the county where the defendant lives or does· business. If you choose this method, you must then contact the Sheriff’s Department for further instructions. It is your responsibility to insure that the completed proof of service is returned to the court prior to the scheduled court date.  Private process server (a listing of process servers may be found· in the yellow pages under “process serving.)” If you choose this method, you must make arrangements with the process service of your choice. It is your responsibility to insure that the completed proof of service is returned to the court prior to the scheduled court date.  By anyone at least 18 years of age who is not a party to the· action. They must fill out a proof of service form and it is your responsibility to insure that the completed proof of service is returned to the court prior to the scheduled court date. You may pay the court to do service by certified mail. You may not send the certified mail yourself. Please refer to the fee schedule. What to Expect in Court A lawyer is not allowed to represent you in court. However, you may talk to a lawyer before or after court. If you are the suing party, and you do not meet the exceptions outlined in Code of Civil Procedure §116.540, you must go to court. You cannot send a representative to take your place in court. Please consult this code section if you are in doubt. When a claim is filed, the clerk will schedule the hearing date approximately 45 days out to allow sufficient time for service. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both sides. You may bring witnesses, photos, bills, receipts, contracts, or any other proof you have. The judge may make the decision at the time of the hearing or take the matter under submission and mail the decision to you. The party filing the claim is the plaintiff and the person being sued is the defendant. If you have been named as a defendant in a Small Claims action and have received an order to appear at a Small Claims hearing, this means that you are being sued. If you do not know why you are being sued, contact the plaintiff immediately for an explanation. Never ignore an order to appear in court even if you think the case is wrong, unfair, or has no basis. If you do not appear in court at the proper time and date, the court may still hear and decide the case without you and you may lose the suit by default. If you believe the plaintiff has caused you injury or owes you money for any reason, you can file a claim against the plaintiff in the same Small Claims court action. If your case is related to the subject of the plaintiff's case, it may be helpful and convenient to resolve it at the same hearing by filing a Defendant's Claim and Order to Plaintiff. If judgment has been entered against you and the appeal time has lapsed, your money or property and maybe a portion of your earnings can then be taken legally by the judgment creditor to pay the judgment against you. A Small Claims judgment is public record. The Small Claims court does not report to any credit reporting agency; however, these agencies come to the court often and place the judgment on the losing party's credit record even after the judgment is paid. If you need additional assistance or have questions filing your claim, contact our Small Claims Advisor, Wendy Dier, at (530) 233-2008.

 

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