Welcome to the Superior Court of California, County of Tuolumne, Criminal Court and Juvenile Court Web pages.
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Monday - Friday (except holidays)
Criminal cases are handled at the Branch Location of the Superior Court of California, County of Tuolumne, which is located at 60 N. Washington Street, Sonora, CA.
Mailing address: 60 N. Washington Street, Sonora, CA, 95370.
Telephone: (209) 533-5563
Calendaring a Hearing
All calendared hearings must be scheduled in advance by contacting the appropriate division
The Criminal Division is located at 60 North Washington Street, Sonora, CA.
Phone: (209) 533-5563
Fax: (209) 533-5581
The Juvenile Traffic Division is located at 60 North Washington Street, Sonora, CA.
Phone: (209) 533-5671
Fax: (209) 533-5581
Ex-Parte Hearings: To schedule an ex-parte hearing, you must submit an Application for Ex-Parte Hearing to the appropriate Calendar Unit.
Forms must be submitted in person or by a Certified Fax Filing Agency accompanied with the $40 filing fee.
Criminal cases range from minor offenses, such as traffic infractions, to serious crimes like robbery and murder. The State, as the protector of all the people, makes the charge against a person accused of committing a crime in accordance with the laws of our State. Only the State, through the Office of the District Attorney in each County, has authority to charge individuals with criminal violations. The prosecuting attorney presents the charge against the accused person (defendant) on behalf of the State (plaintiff), and must prove to the judge or jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
California statutes generally classify a crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in a state prison, or by death. Examples of felony crimes include: robbery, rape, child molestation, and murder. A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony and generally is punishable by a fine or imprisonment in a county jail, rather than in a state penitentiary. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include: petty theft, driving under the influence, and drunk in public. Traffic violations are considered “infractions” and include, for example, things like speeding, automobile equipment needing repair, and expired licenses. Infractions are enforced by the issuance of traffic tickets (“citations”) by law enforcement. Punishment for such infractions include payment of fines and do not carry any potential jail or prison time. Traffic cases in Tuolumne County are heard in the Branch Location of the Superior Court. For more information regarding traffic cases, please visit the Traffic page of this Web site.
A typical criminal case follows these steps:
Warrant: A warrant is issued for the arrest of an individual accused of a crime (felony or misdemeanor).
Arrest: The arrest is conducted by law enforcement officers, or the accused turns him/her self in for arrest.
Arraignment: The accused (now the defendant) is informed of the charges against them in this courtroom procedure. The defendant or their attorney will enter a plea. The most common pleas are not guilty, guilty, or no contest. No contest has the same effect as a guilty plea, except the conviction cannot be used against the defendant in a civil suit.
Bail or OR: The accused is held with or without bail or released on their own recognizance (OR). This will depend on the nature of the offense, the probability the accused will appear at the scheduled court dates, the severity of the charges, the defendant’s criminal history, if any, etc.
Special Hearing or Disposition: For first-time offenders of misdemeanors, or other special circumstances, the court may proceed in this manner and issue a ruling and sentence at this time.
Preliminary Hearing: The hearing given to a person accused of a felony, by a judge, to determine whether or not there is probably cause to believe that the act committed is in fact a crime, that the person charged is responsible for that crime, and whether the defendant should be held for trial.
Plea Bargaining: Can occur at any time up until the time of trial, whereby the accused/defendant, through his/her attorney, may agree on a plea with the District Attorney without going to trial.
Trial Process: Selection of a jury, presentation of evidence, and a decision by the jury. To prove guilt, the jury must be unanimous in that decision.
Post-Verdict Motions: Attorneys for both the accused/defendant, and for the government, can make numerous legal arguments and negotiations at this point, including a motion for a new trial, an application for modification of sentence, etc.
The process of reopening a case to dismiss an old guilty plea or jury verdict to enter a plea of not guilty, and having the court dismiss the charges, is brought before the court by filing a motion under California Penal Code Section 1203.4. Please note this procedure does not remove all disabilities. For example, if you are required to register per Penal Code Section 290, this process will not affect registration. To remove that type of disability, a “Certificate of Rehabilitation” is necessary after completion of the 1203.4 process. Also, if your conviction prevents you from owning a handgun for a certain period of time, this process will not affect that disability. These are generalities and you must speak with a qualified attorney regarding the specifics of your individual case.
In order for the Court to rule on your petition for relief pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1203.4, an investigation must be done to make sure you are eligible. In addition, the District Attorney’s Office must receive adequate notice prior to the hearing. Please go to the Tuolumne County Probation Department located at 465 South Washington Street, Sonora, CA, or call them at 209-533-7500. The Probation Department will assist you in getting this matter calendared and proceeding with the investigation.
Court appearances are mandatory on criminal misdemeanor and felony cases. Extensions will not be granted. You must appear at the court location specified on the date and time as directed on your release paper or arraignment letter. WARNING: Failure to appear may result in a warrant for your arrest. On your court date, check the posted court calendars for your name to locate the courtroom. If your name is on the calendar, go directly to the courtroom assigned. If not, report to the Criminal Division. Be prepared to provide identification and information on the arrest or alleged offense, including jail release paperwork, notice to appear, arraignment letter, or your case number.
If the defendant does not appear in court as
required, the Court may order any or all of the following actions:
1) Forfeiture of any bail bond. 2) Issuance of a warrant. 3) Suspend the defendant’s
driver’s license. 4) Impose an additional $300.00 assessment pursuant to Penal
Code Section 1214.1 on infraction cases and specific misdemeanor offenses, when the matter is referred to
collections. The District Attorney may
chose to charge an additional violation for the failure to appear, which
carries an additional jail term and/or fine, if convicted. This charge
can be pursued by the District Attorney regardless of whether the original
offense is proved to be true.
Refunds on cash bail are processed automatically upon court order. It takes approximately six to eight weeks from the date of the court order to receive your refund.
Blood alcohol results may be obtained by contacting the District Attorney’s office, or the City Attorney’s office, prior to the arraignment.
At the arraignment, if the defendant wants to be
represented by an attorney, but cannot afford one, a request may be made for a
court appointed attorney. If the
court determines the defendant meets the qualifications, an attorney will be
appointed. When the court
appoints a public defender, or other counsel, the matter will be referred to
the Tuolumne County Office of Revenue Recovery to determine your ability to
pay a portion or all of your attorney’s fees.
That determination is subject to court review upon your
request. Such an order has the
same force and effect as a civil judgment.
Requests for record searches may be made in person at the Branch Location of the Superior Court. To request a record search by mail, provide as much information as possible, including full name(s), date of birth, and any additional information available. The fee for a record search is $15.00 per name, per index. There will be an additional fee if copies of documents are requested.
Requests for copies may be made in person at the Branch Location of the Superior Court, where the file is administered. The fee for copies is $.50 per page. If certification is requested, an additional $25.00 per document will be assessed, See fee schedule below.
To request copies or a record search by mail, submit a check made payable to “Tuolumne Superior Court.” DO NOT SEND CASH. Every effort is made to fill copy and record search requests within ten working days.
Superior Court of California Statewide Civil Fee Schedule (Effective July. 1,
To view a complete schedule of court fees, see Fee Schedule.
Click here to download “Request for Criminal Record Search” form.
Drug court programs are administered through Department 2 of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, which is located at the Historic Courthouse, 41 West Yaney Avenue, Sonora, CA.
To contact the Prop 36 Manager, Laurie May, please call (209) 533-6596.
The Juvenile Court is a division of the Superior Court. It has exclusive jurisdiction over youths, under 18 years of age, who violate any federal, state, or municipal law, and any child who is abused or neglected. The Juvenile Court has broad authority in juvenile delinquency and dependency cases.
Juvenile delinquency involves cases with children who have committed law violations that, if committed by an adult, would be considered crimes.
Juvenile dependency cases concern family situations where allegations of abuse or neglect have been made, and the Juvenile Court intervenes to protect the family’s children.
The Court can remove children from their homes, order their placement with relatives or in foster care or group homes, terminate parental rights, create new parental rights, and join various agencies to provide needed services. In delinquency cases, the Juvenile Court can also order children confined in locked facilities, such as detention halls, ranches, and the California Youth Authority.
When the Court has decided to remove a child from his or her home, placement and responsibility for that child is given to a governmental agency. In delinquency cases, that agency is the Probation Department; in abuse and neglect cases, the agency is the County Welfare Department. The agency is responsible for meeting the health and educational needs of the child, as well as providing the care, treatment, and guidance the child may need.
Given that these decisions are so serious and affect fundamental rights, it is very important that if a juvenile case involves you or your child, you consult an attorney who can advise you more specifically about the court process as it relates to the case.
The child in a delinquency case has a right to an attorney; a parent in an abuse and neglect case has a right to any attorney; and if a child in an abuse and neglect case would benefit from appointment of an attorney the Court will appoint one.
For more general information about the Juvenile Court process, please consult the Judicial Council’s informational brochures on juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency. They are available free from www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms, or by calling the publications Hotline at 800-900-5980.
The Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts’ Center for Families, Children & the Courts was established to maximize the effectiveness of court services for children and families, implement innovative court-related programs for them, and promote those services in the legal community and to the public. Visit the Center’s Web site at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/children.htm.
Note: Nothing in this Web site is intended as either legal advice or as a ruling of the court. This information is provided as a general guide only. You are encouraged to get the assistance of a lawyer if you need legal advice.