Going to court can be a stressful experience. If you know more about the courtroom experience it can make things easier but you can really benefit from having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Your lawyer can help you understand what to expect so you are not alone when dealing with the court.
If you have a court appearance in Alameda County, for drunk driving, domestic violence, or other criminal charges, it can help to know what to expect before your court date. If you have other questions about your criminal case, you can talk to an experienced California criminal defense attorney about your rights and legal defense options.
Which Alameda County Courthouse Handles My Case?
There are 4 criminal courthouses in Alameda County. It is important to review all documents and notices before you go to court to make sure you are showing up at the right place. The courthouse for your criminal case is not always the one that is closest to your residence or even where your arrest took place. The courthouse can depend on the law enforcement agency that handled the arrest and the type of case involved.
The primary criminal courts in Alameda County include:
- Dublin - East County Hall of Justice
- Fremont - Fremont Hall of Justice
- Oakland - René C. Davidson Courthouse
- Oakland - Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
Dublin - East County Hall of Justice
5151 Gleason Drive
Dublin, CA 94568
Phone Number: 925-227-6700
Free parking is available.
Closest Bart Station is Dublin/Pleasanton.
Fremont - Fremont Hall of Justice
39439 Paseo Padre Parkway
Fremont, CA 94538
Phone Number: (510) 818-7501
Free parking is available.
Closest Bart station is Fremont.
Oakland - René C. Davidson Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street, Room 107
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 891-6009
Metered street parking. Parking lots located at the Oakland Museum and Alcopark Garage on Jackson between 12th and 13th Streets.
Closest Bart Station is Lake Merritt.
Oakland - Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
661 Washington Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 627-4702
Metered street parking. Parking lot located at 7th and Jefferson.
The closest Bart Station is 12th Street/Oakland City Center.
If you are not sure where your case is held or you have lost your court notice, your Oakland criminal defense attorney can make sure you are going to the right court and may even be able to show up for you if you are at work or going to school.
What Happens If I Miss My Court Date?
Missing your court appearance can be a problem and may result in additional fines and penalties. If you don't show up to the courthouse when your case is called by the judge, the judge may issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). An FTA can result in a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a warrant for your arrest because of missing the court date. The DMV may also suspend your license for failure to appear.
If you are not able to make your court date or you have already missed the appearance, your attorney can help clear up the issue with the court. Your East Bay criminal defense attorney may be able to reschedule the case, show up instead of you, or request a new hearing date. If you go to the court on your own, you may risk getting arrested based on your warrant.
You may be able to change your court date if you have a conflict. Contact your attorney who can arrange a change in your court appearance. You may also be able to contact the Criminal Division clerk's office to request a schedule change.
What to Expect When You Go to Alameda County Court
You may not know what to expect the first time you go to the Alameda County Courthouse. You should be prepared and allow extra time for parking, getting through security, and finding the right place to be. If you have already contacted your East Bay criminal defense attorney, you should be well-prepared for what to expect. Your attorney may also meet you at the court to explain what to expect and help you through the process.
Make sure you bring any paperwork with you for your case. This may include a court summons or court notice for the location, date, and time of your hearing. The notice may also include the courtroom number and name of the judge. According to the criminal court, documents to bring to court include the following:
- "Proper Identification (driver's license, passport, or other photo identification)
- Copy of citation
- Notice of Hearing or courtesy copy of hearing letter
- Bond Receipt, cash bail receipts, etc.
- Jail release paperwork
- Sentencing order, probation order
- Money to pay fines, fees, and restitution"
What Should I Wear to Court?
Wearing nice clothes can show the court that you are taking the case seriously and are showing respect to the judge. At a minimum, avoid wearing tank tops, shorts, clothing with holes, flip flops, or shirts with obscene words or characters. According to the Alameda County Court, the dress code has the following rules enforced:
- "Plan to dress as you would for a business meeting. Shirt and shoes are required.
- Hats must be removed upon entering and while in the courtroom."
Arraignment at the Alameda County Court
The arraignment is the first court appearance in a criminal case. The arraignment can happen shortly after the arrest or be scheduled for a future date. During the arraignment, the judge tells the defendant about the charges, explains their constitutional rights, and explains the right to an attorney if the defendant cannot afford one. The defendant can then respond with:
- Not guilty
- No contest
If you say you're guilty, you can be sentenced immediately. If you are not sure what to say, you can say "not guilty," and your case will generally be put off for another date. If you don't have a lawyer yet, this will also give you time to contact a professional and experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to give you the best chance at avoiding a costly conviction.
If the defendant is in custody at the time of arraignment, the judge can release the defendant "on their own recognizance," to appear at a future date. The judge can also set a bail amount and keep the defendant in custody until they post bail. In some cases, the judge can refuse bail for the defendant and they will have to remain in jail until their trial.
Showing Up for Trial in Oakland
If your criminal defense attorney and the county prosecutor cannot come to a plea agreement, then the case may be set for trial. The trial process can take a lot of time, depending on the type of case. You have the right to have your case heard before a jury of your peers. The lawyers will choose the jury in the jury selection process. After the jury is selected, the trial can begin. If you have any questions about the trial process, talk to your Oakland criminal defense attorney about what to expect.
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of criminal defense experience and understands the challenges involved in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. Contact a local criminal defense lawyer who understands defense strategies and plea bargain negotiations to give you the best chance for success.