The Monterey County Superior Court Criminal Division has jurisdiction over adult felony and misdemeanor cases.
Criminal cases are processed in the Salinas Division.
The Salinas Division is considered the County Seat. The District Attorney may elect to file a criminal complaint in the Salinas Division regardless of where the offense occurred.
The Salinas Division processes criminal cases resulting from a criminal offense committed in Carmel (Includes Carmel-by-the-Sea), Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside, California State University – Monterey Bay, Presidio of Monterey, areas of Big Sur, Carmel Valley and west of Arroyo Seco, South Monterey County including Chualar, Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield, King City, areas south of King City to the San Luis Obispo county Line, including Bradley, Lockwood (San Antonio Lake), San Ardo, and San Lucas, North Monterey County including the areas of Castroville, Aromas, Moss Landing, Prunedale, Pajaro, and Spreckels.
Adult infraction criminal and traffic violations are handled in the Marina Division. Some examples are: fishing without a license, dog running at large, sleeping in a park, speeding, running a stop sign, possession of small amounts of marijuana. Misdemeanor vehicle code violations 12500(a), unlicensed driver, are also handled in the Marina Division.
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is generally punishable by a fine and up to six months in the county jail. Some more serious misdemeanors are punishable by fine and up to one year in the county jail. Common misdemeanor violations include petty theft, driving under the influence, driving without a license, public intoxication, battery and minor assaults.
A felony is a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in the county jail or state prison for more than one year or, in some cases, death. Some common felony violations are: possession with intent to sell controlled substances, burglary, robbery, arson, carjacking, driving under the influence with bodily injury to another person, and serious assaults.
Generally, when a crime is committed, the officer may arrest and place the suspect into custody or issue a citation and release the person on his/her own recognizance with a future court appearance date. The officer will submit a police report to the District Attorney's Office requesting a formal complaint be filed with the Court.
Arrest - County Jail
If the person is arrested, he/she will be booked into the Monterey County Jail on the alleged charges. The person may be:
- Released if not arraigned within the statutory time (generally within 48 hours)
- Booked and released on his/her own recognizance with a future court appearance date
- Released if bail is posted (cash or bond) with a future court appearance date.
- Released on Pretrial Services Own Recognizance/ or Supervised Release
Under California Penal Code 1272, the bail amount may be posted according to a bail schedule. Bail serves as a guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when required. Bail can be posted in one of the following forms:
Cash Bail: Under California Penal Code 1272, the bail amount may be posted according to a bail schedule.
Bail Bond (Surety bond): Bonds are posted by a California Bonds Company by an authorized Bail Bond Agency/Bail bondsman. Typically, the bail bondsman requires a deposit based on the bail amount. The bail bond agency posting the bond must guarantee the amount personally and financially. In the event that the defendant/accused does not appear in court after the bail is posted, then the bail bond could be forfeited and the bail bond agency must pay the entire amount of the bail to the Court – County.
Property Bond: An inpidual guarantees the bail amount with property, such as real estate, and could lose that property through foreclosure if the defendant fails to appear in court.
For more information please see the Criminal section of the Local Rules of Court.
Own Recognizance (OR): Defendants may be released on his/her OR without paying bail money or a bail bond, and are scheduled to appear at specific future court dates. If the defendant appears at all scheduled court appearances, the defendant will not be required to pay bail or be incarcerated while their case is pending. If the defendant fails to appear, the person may be arrested.
District Attorney's Office
The District Attorney (prosecutor) will review the police report to determine whether the person should be charged with a crime and, if so, what the crime should be. The prosecutor will review all reports and records, including witness statements. The prosecutor also reviews the person's prior criminal and/or DMV record. The District Attorney will prepare the charging document, the "complaint," listing the charges brought against the person.
City Attorney's Office
The City Attorney (prosecutor) has the authority to enforce the municipal code within city limits.
OBTAINING AN ATTORNEY:
The Clerk's Office cannot recommend an attorney. An attorney referral service may offer low-cost or no-cost options to qualifying persons.
Complaint Filed with the Court
The District Attorney or City Attorney will file the complaint with the Superior Court, Criminal Division. The complaint is filed on behalf of the State of California (plaintiff) against the accused person (defendant).
Grand Jury Indictment Filed With The Court
Another method for initiating charges against a defendant is a grand jury indictment. The grand jury, comprised of 19 jurors, determines whether probable cause exists based on evidence presented by the prosecutor. Grand jury proceedings are confidential and their actions become public only through the indictment, if one is filed.