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 Lassen County Sheriff's Department or Susanville 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 does not declare 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, cash 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, check the posted court calendar for your name and courtroom. If your name is on the calendar, go directly to the courtroom. If not, 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 a Collections Agency 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, Western Union and Money Grams. Please do not mail cash. The Court only accepts U.S. Funds. Please make checks payable to LSC and include your docket 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 victim's and victim's restitution, please call the District Attorney's Office at: 530-251-8283.
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 or 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 Lassen County Sheriff's Department, (530) 251-8013, 1415 Sheriff Cady Lane, Susanville, CA 96130.
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 "Lassen County 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
- The defendant's date of birth (if known)
- The name of the documents you want copied