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Going to Criminal Court in Contra Costa County

The closer it gets to your court date, you may realize you are not really prepared for what will happen when you finally have to show up to the courthouse. If you call a local criminal defense attorney, you should be better prepared and know what to expect. However, if you are trying to represent yourself or hope you will get a public defender, make sure you are prepared and show up to the courthouse with plenty of time to spare. 

If you have a court appearance for drunk driving, domestic violence, or other charges in Contra Costa County, you can find out more about what to expect below. 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 Courthouse in Contra Costa County Will Handle My Case?

There are 4 criminal courthouses in Contra Costa County. Your court will not always be the one closest to where you leave or nearest to where the arrest occurred. The courthouse for your case will generally depend on the type of case and which law enforcement agency handled your arrest. The primary criminal courts in Contra Costa County include: 

  • Martinez - A.F. Bray Courthouse
  • Martinez - Wakefield Taylor Courthouse
  • Richmond - Richmond Superior Court, George D. Carroll Courthouse
  • Pittsburg - Richard E. Arnason Justice Center

Martinez - A.F. Bray Courthouse
1020 Ward Street
Martinez, CA 94553
Phone Number: (925) 608-1000

Metered public parking is available in the area around the courthouse. 
Closest BART Station is Martinez.

Martinez - Wakefield Taylor Courthouse
725 Court Street
Martinez, CA 94553
Phone Number: (925) 608-1000

Metered parking is available on all streets surrounding the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse (most meters take only quarters).
Closest BART Station is Martinez.

Richmond - Richmond Superior Court, George D. Carroll Courthouse
100 37th Street
Richmond, CA 94805
Phone Number: (925) 608-1000

Free parking is available. 

Bus connection to Richmond BART Station.

Pittsburg - Pittsburg Superior Court, Richard E. Arnason Justice Center
1000 Center Drive
Pittsburg, CA 94565
(925) 608-1000

Free parking is available.  
Closest BART Station is Pittsburg Center.

If you are not sure which courthouse to go to or if you can't find your court notice, call your East Bay criminal defense attorney. In some cases, your lawyer can even show up to court on your behalf so you don't have to take time off of work or school.  

Don't Skip Your Court Date!

It can be tempting to skip your court appearance and go to court at a later date when you are more well-prepared. However, skipping your court appearance without approval from the court can result in a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a warrant issued by the judge for failure to appear (FTA). If you have a warrant, you can be arrested, even if you are pulled over for a minor traffic violation. 

Don't skip going to court without talking to your criminal defense lawyer. If you can't make the date, contact the court ahead of time and request a different court date. 

Arriving at the Courthouse in Contra Costa County

Courts can be very busy in the morning, with employees, law enforcement, lawyers, and juries all showing up at about the same time. It can take time to find parking, find the entrance, go through security, and find the exact courtroom for your case. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to where you need to be. Showing up late can mean you miss your appearance. If you have already contacted your attorney, they may be able to meet you at court to explain what to expect. 

What Do I Need to Bring to Court?

Bring everything you might need to court. You can keep your documents in a large envelope or folder. If you have an important document at home, the judge won't likely stop the proceeding so you can run home and get the paperwork you need. Documents to bring to court include: 

  • Government identification (driver's license or passport)
  • Copy of citation
  • Notice of Hearing 
  • Bond or cash bail receipts
  • Jail release paperwork
  • Sentencing orders
  • Probation order
  • Money to pay fines, fees, and restitution

How Should I Dress For Court?

You may dress a certain way in your private life that is not necessarily appropriate for court. By wearing nice clothing, it can send a message to the judge and the court that you are taking the criminal proceedings seriously. What kind of message might you be sending if you were arrested for drunk driving and show up in a t-shirt advertising liquor? 

According to the Contra Costa County Courts guidance for jurors, "Please dress appropriately for the courtroom. Business or casual attire is suggested. Shorts and tank tops are not acceptable." Dressing professionally can present a professional appearance. It can be helpful to think of your court appearance as you would dress for a job interview. 

Contra Costa County Courthouse Arraignment 

The first appearance before a judge in a criminal case is known as the arraignment. The arraignment generally happens after the arrest, where the judge reads the defendant the formal criminal charges, explains their constitutional rights, and talks about the right to an attorney if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer. The defendant then pleads guilty, not guilty, or no contest. . The defendant can then respond with: 

  • Not guilty
  • Guilty
  • No contest

Showing Up for Arraignment in the East Bay

If you were arrested in Concord, Danville, Richmond, or anywhere else in Contra Costa County, it is important to know what to expect before you get to court. If you have any questions about the trial process, talk to your local criminal defense attorney about how to prepare for the best possible outcome.

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. 

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