The Criminal Court Division processes misdemeanor and felony complaints. Generally speaking, a police officer observes what appears to be criminal activity or they receive a report from an interested citizen (usually the victim) that a crime has been committed.
Examples of misdemeanor crimes include: petty theft, driving under the influence and drunk in public. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor crime in most but not all cases is a year in a county jail or a base fine not exceeding $1000.00 plus penalties and assessments. Examples of felony crimes include: robbery, rape, child molestation and murder. The maximum punishment for a felony crime can be imprisonment in state prison or county jail and/or to pay a fine.
The Superior Court, County of Madera's Felony Bail Schedule (including specified misdemeanors) can be found here.
Normal window hours are 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. A drop box will be available from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM for filings. Note that cash payments cannot be placed in the available drop box at any time.
Certification and Copying Fees can be found here. Fines are due on the date set by the court. For your convenience, payments may be made by mail or in person. The court accepts: cash, personal checks, cashier's checks, and money orders payable in U.S. Funds only. We also accept payments by debit and credit card (Visa, Mastercard and Discover - service fees apply). Checks and money orders should be payable to "Madera Superior Court." To ensure your payment is credited to the case, include the case number. All checks must be preprinted with the makers name and address. DO NOT MAIL CASH.
The typical criminal case follows these steps:
- Warrant: A warrant is issued for the arrest of an individual accused of an crime (felony or misdemeanor).
- Arrest: The arrest is conducted by law enforcement officers, or the accused turns themselves in for arrest.
- Arraignment: The accused (now defendant) is informed of the charges against them in this courtroom procedure. The defendant or their attorney will enter a plea. The most common pleas are Not Guilty, Guilty, or No Contest. No Contest has the same effect as a guilty plea except the conviction cannot be used against the defendant in a civil suit.
- Bail or ROR: The accused is held with or without bail or released on their own recognizance (ROR). This will depend on the nature of the offense, the probability the accused will appear at scheduled court dates, the severity of the charges, the defendant's criminal history, if any, etc.
- Special Hearing or Disposition: For first-time offenders of misdemeanors or other special circumstances, the court may proceed in this manner and issue a ruling and sentence at this time.
- Preliminary Hearing: The hearing given to a person accused of a felony, by a judge, to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the act committed is in fact a crime and that the person charged, is responsible for that crime and whether the Defendant should be held for trial.
- Plea Bargaining: Can occur at any time up until the time of trial, whereby the accused/defendant through his/her attorney may agree on a plea with the district attorney without going to trial.
- Trial Process: Selection of a jury, presentation of evidence, and a decision by the jury. To prove guilt, the jury must be unanimous in that decision.
- Post-Verdict Motions: Attorneys for both the accused/defendant and for the government can make numerous legal arguments and negotiations at this point, including a Motion for a New Trial, an Application for Modification of Sentence, etc.
With a “Penal Code section 1203.4 Motion.” This is the process of reopening a case, discarding the old guilty plea or jury verdict, entering a new plea of not guilty, and having the court dismiss the charges. Please note this procedure does not remove all disabilities. For example, if you are required to register per Penal Code section 290, this process will not affect registration. To remove that type of disability, a “Certificate of Rehabilitation” is necessary AFTER completion of the 1203.4 process. Also, if your conviction prevents you from owning a handgun for a certain period of time, this process will not affect that disability. These are generalities and you must speak with a qualified attorney regarding the specifics of your individual case.
For local forms regarding Expungements, please visit the Local Forms Page.
Court appearances are mandatory on criminal misdemeanor and felony cases. Extensions will not be granted. You must appear at the court location specified on the date and time as directed on your release paper or arraignment letter. WARNING: Failure to appear may result in a warrant for your arrest. On your court date, check the posted court calendars for your name to locate the courtroom. If your name is on the calendar, go directly to the courtroom assigned. If not, report to the Criminal Division. Be prepared to provide identification and information on the arrest or alleged offense, including jail release paperwork, notice to appear or arraignment letter or your case number.
Failure to Appear
If the defendant does not appear in court as required, the court may order any, or all of the following actions:
- Forfeiture of bail bond
- Issuance of a warrant
- Suspension of the defendant's drivers license
- Add an additional violation alleging a failure to appear. The punishment for this violation can be an additional jail term and/or a fine. This charge can be pursued by the District Attorney regardless of whether or not the underlying offense is proven to be true.
- Impose an additional $300.00 assessment pursuant to penal Code Section 1214.1 on infraction cases, when the matter is referred to collections.
Extensions on court ordered fines, fees, programs or jail may be requested by filing out a "Request for Modification" form or from the Criminal Division located at the Main Courthouse. Forms must be received by the Court 5 days prior to the due date, at 8:00 a.m. You will be required to go before a judge to extend your report date to jail or to re-set your payment plan. A one-time extension on infractions to Pay or Appear can be granted by the clerk's office on infractions cases only.
Refunds on cash bail are processed automatically upon court order. It takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks from the date of the court order to receive your refund.
Blood Alcohol Results
Blood alcohol results may be obtained by contacting the District Attorney's Office or City Attorney's office prior to the arraignment.
Court Appointed Counsel
At the arraignment, if the defendant wants to be represented by an attorney, but cannot afford one, a request may 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 Madera County Revenue Services department for determination of ability to pay a portion or all of your attorney's fees. However, that determination is subject to Court review upon your request. Such an order has the same force and effect as a civil judgment.
Requests for record searches may be made in person in the Criminal Division. To request a record search by mail, provide as much information as possible, including full name(s), date of birth and any additional information available. The fee for a record search is $15.00 per name, per index. There will be an additional fee if copies of documents are requested. See above fee schedule.
Requests for copies may be made in person in the Criminal Division at the Courthouse where the case is filed. The fee for copies is $.50 per page. If certification is requested, an additional $25.00 per case will be assessed. See above fee schedule. Provide the following information (if unknown, there may be additional fees for a record search):
- Defendant's name
- Case number
- Date of birth (if known)
- Specific documents requested
To request copies by mail, submit a money order or cashier's check (personal checks are not accepted) payable to "Madera Superior Court." DO NOT SEND CASH. The court may accept business checks from law firms marked "not to exceed $50 dollars" (or higher amount depending on the amount of copies/certifications needed). When the amount of the payment becomes known, the court staff shall fill in the exact amount due. This exception to normal procedures applies only to checks received from law firms.
Drug court programs are administered through Criminal Court. The Drug Court Program is administered through Department 23 located at the Main Courthouse location.
Normal window hours of the Criminal Division: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. A drop box will be available from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM for filings. Note that cash payments cannot be placed in the available drop box at any time.
Fees are typically assessed by the Court at the Sentencing of the accused.
Forms typically used in Drug Court include:
- Calendar Request
- Modification Request