Criminal Division

Criminal Cases are processed at the Justice Center courthouse located at 12855 Justice Center Drive, Sonora, CA  95370. All cases are heard in this location.

 If you are the victim of a crime, there are resources available to you. Please contact the District Attorney’s Office at (209)588-5450, or Victim Witness Assistance at (209) 588-5443 for information.

A criminal case is a proceeding in which someone is charged with a public offense (i.e., with committing a crime). DUI, fish & game, and dog/animal control citations are also processed in the criminal division.

 If you have hired an attorney, or an attorney has been appointed to represent you, please contact them for assistance.

Criminal cases range from minor offenses such as traffic matters, to serious matters like robbery and murder.  The State of California, represented by the District Attorney’s Office, charges individuals with criminal offenses. 

California laws, statutes and ordinances classify crimes as infractions, misdemeanors or felonies. 

·        An infraction is punishable by a fine only. 

·        A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine, imprisonment in the county jail or both.

·        A felony is punishable by imprisonment in state prison and in some cases by death


If you received a Pay or Appear Notice for your criminal case and are electing to pay your fine in lieu of appearing in court you can use the Criminal Pay or Appear System .

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Find Information About

Calendaring a Hearing

All hearings must be scheduled in advance.  The Superior Court of Tuolumne California, County of Tuolumne, does not offer any walk in calendars at this time. 

To schedule a hearing:

By phone at: (209) 533-5563

In person at: Superior Court, 12855 Justice Center Drive, Sonora, CA  95370

By email: crimjuv.calendar@tuolumne.courts.ca.gov 

Ex-Parte Hearings

To schedule an ex-parte hearing, you must submit an  Application for Ex-Parte Hearing to the criminal/traffic division. Forms must be submitted in person or by a Certified Fax Filing Agency.


An expungement allows you to reopen your criminal case, set aside the conviction and dismiss the case. As a result, your criminal record will no longer show the conviction. However the expungement will continue to appear on your record. It is important to note that the expungement does not clear from your record the fact that you were arrested or that charges were filed.

Following a successful expungement, if a potential employer asks if you have ever been convicted you can honestly answer “no”. Keep in mind, though, that background checks typically go back 10 years, and employers can see that you had a conviction dismissed. Answering "No" may look dishonest. A better response may be "Yes, expungement granted."

If you are applying for a government job, a job that requires security clearance, or a job that requires a government-issued license, certificate or permit, the conviction will likely be discovered during the standard background check. You should disclose the conviction and expungement in these situations.

If you are applying for a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, you must disclose your conviction and expungement.

The conviction can still be used against you in future criminal proceedings and by the DMV for purposes of suspending or restricting your license. A successful expungement does not relieve you of any prohibition on the ownership or possession of firearms resulting from the conviction.

To begin the process you must file a “Petition for Dismissal”. In order for the court to rule on your petition, 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 95370, or call them at (209) 533-7500. The Probation Department will assist you in getting this matter calendared and proceeding with the necessary investigation.

Failing to Appear

If a defendant in a criminal case does not appear in court as required, the Court may order any or all of the following actions:

1. Forfeiture of any cash bail or bail bond

2. Issue of a bench warrant

3. Suspend the defendant’s driver’s license

4. Impose an additional $300 civil assessment penalty pursuant to PC 1214.1

5. At the request of the District Attorney, add an additional Failure To Appear charge. This charge may carry an additional jail term and/or fine if convicted.  This charge can be pursued by the District Attorney regardless of the outcome of the original offense.

If a bench warrant has been issued, the clerk’s office CANNOT schedule another appearance date.  The defendant must surrender to the county jail for processing on the bench warrant.

Bail Refunds

Refunds for cash bail posted in a criminal case are processed automatically upon order of the Court. It takes approximately six to eight weeks from the date of the court order to receive your refund.

The court will mail the refund check payable to the depositor named, and the address provided, on the cash bail receipt.

Blood Alcohol Results

You may be able to obtain your blood alcohol test results by contacting the District Attorney’s office prior to your court date. You may contact them at 423 North Washington Street, Sonora, CA  95370 or by calling (209) 588-5450

Court Appointed Counsel

At the arraignment, if the defendant wants to be represented by an attorney, but cannot afford one, a request can 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.

Record Searches and Copies

Requests for record searches may be made in person at the Criminal division window. To request a record search by mail, provide as much information as possible, including full name, date of birth and any additional information available.  You may also download:  “Request for Criminal Record Search” form and mail it in with the fee. Fees for a record search are $15.00 per name, for searches taking longer than 10 minutes.  There are additional fees if copies of documents are requested and for certification of documents.

To see the fees that are collected in the criminal cases, click here. These are pages 13 and 14 of the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule.

To request copies by mail, submit a request with as much information as possible about the case and the documents you are requesting copies of, along with a check made payable to “Tuolumne Superior Court”, leaving the amount blank but write out “Not to exceed $25.00”. Also include a self addressed stamped envelope large enough to accommodate the requested documents.  Document requests that do not include a self addressed stamped envelope will not be filled.  Every effort is made to fill copy and record search requests within 10 working days.

Frequently Asked Questions


You or an attorney representing you must appear. Very few criminal cases do not require an appearance.  If you have received a notice from the court entitled “Pay or Appear Notice”, you were charged with a very minor offense in which you can post and forfeit the bail amount listed in the notice by the due date and not appear.


It is very important that you check the court or legal papers you have to find out the day and time you must appear in court. You can find this information on one of the following documents:

  • Bail bond receipt,

  • Cash bail receipt,

  • Notice of hearing,

  • Signed Promise to appear, or

  • Notice to appear

If you have any questions about your court date, please contact the Criminal Division in person, at 12855 Justice Center Drive, Sonora, CA, or call the court at (209) 533-5563 during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


There is one location where a criminal case may be heard in Tuolumne County:

Tuolumne Superior Court

12855 Justice Center Drive, Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 533-5563
All departments are located here.

You can use the number noted above to reach any court location in Tuolumne County.

When you get to the courthouse, check the calendar on the wall for your name and the department where your case will be heard. If you do not see your name on one of the criminal calendar lists, go to the Criminal Division to ask about your case.


If you posted a bail bond for a specific date to appear or have appeared in court and are ordered to return, you cannot change the date. If you were appointed or have hired an attorney, you should contact them for assistance. If the date set is for an arraignment and a complaint has been filed with the court, you may contact the Criminal Division, and the clerk may be able to advance your arraignment date, but cannot postpone your hearing date. To contact the Criminal Division, call (209) 533-5563 during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If you want to change the date you are scheduled to go to court, you must contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, it is very important to appear on the scheduled court date, or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.


If you did not go to court on the day and time your hearing was scheduled, and you did not get the hearing changed to another day, you need to contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, contact the Criminal Division at (209) 533-5563 during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


If you do not hire your own lawyer, you can ask the court to appoint one. To do this, you must go to your first court appearance and ask the judge. The court will then appoint the Public Defender, Conflict Counsel, Alternate Conflict Counsel, or a private attorney to represent you. When your case ends, the judge will consider your income, expenses, and other factors to decide how much (if any) of the court-appointed lawyer’s legal fees you must pay.


In addition to bringing a valid identification document (driver's license, passport, or other picture identification), you should bring other documents such as:

  • Notice of Hearing

  • Bond receipts, cash bail receipts, etc.

  • Jail release paperwork

  • Citation


If you have an outstanding bench warrant, to clear it you must surrender yourself to the jail for processing on the warrant. The court clerks cannot schedule another hearing date for you. If you have any outstanding arrest warrant, you may contact the criminal division to inquire if a court date can be set for your case. If the clerk is allowed to schedule a hearing date for you, the warrant will remain active and you are subject to arrest until your scheduled court date. Contact the criminal division at (209) 533-5563 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.


You can find out whether someone who has been arrested is in custody by calling the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 533-5844.

You may obtain the court date and time for an individual who is in custody by calling the criminal division at (209) 533-5563 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.


The Criminal Division maintains filings and records of dispositions (judicial decisions.) To get information about or copies of documents from a criminal case, you can make a request in person or in writing via the mail. If you make your request in writing, be sure to include:

  • A check made out to "Tuolumne Superior Court". (On the payment line, write "not to exceed $25.00", or the amount the clerk tells you once he or she knows how many copies you want.) If you are asking for a certified copy of the document, you will need to pay an extra $40.00, fee plus $0.50 per copy per page.

  • self-addressed, stamped envelope large enough to accommodate the requested documents.

A letter including the defendants name, date of birth and case number (if known), as well as a list of the documents you want copied.


A felony offense is a criminal charge which carries a maximum penalty of a state prison term, or in certain cases, the death penalty. Other possible penalties include: probation, county jail, fines, or a combination thereof.


A misdemeanor offense is a criminal charge which carries a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. Other possible penalties include: probation, county jail or work program, fines, or a combination thereof.


State and local laws define crimes and specify punishment. The maximum sentence for an infraction is a fine; for a misdemeanor it is up to one year in a county jail or a fine or both; and for a felony it is more than one year in jail, time in a state prison or, for some murders, death.

Contact Information

Justice Center Courthouse

12855 Justice Center Drive

Sonora, CA  95370

Phone:  (209) 533-5563


© 2009 Superior Court of California, County of Tuolumne