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Requesting a Court Interpreter

If you don’t speak or understand English very well, you may need a court interpreter to help you in court. Even if you speak English in everyday life, the situations and language in court can be very difficult.

An interpreter can help make sure that you understand and can communicate as well as possible.

  • Court Interpreters are provided free of charge.
  • You must request an interpreter in advance.
  • Ask the court to provide an interpreter as soon as you find out that you need to go to court.

Important things to know before working with a court interpreter

Court interpreters must follow specific rules for what they can and can’t do.

  • Interpreters translate what is being said in the courtroom into your language and translate your words into English.

  • They must keep all communications between you and your lawyer confidential.

  • They must disclose any conflicts of interest they may have with your case. 

  • They cannot give you legal advice. 

Court interpreters cannot typically provide services outside of the courtroom.

Some courts have interpreters available in their self-help centers to assist with translation outside of the courtroom. You can contact your court’s self-help center to find out if this is available at your court.

Only qualified court interpreters can translate court proceedings.

You are not allowed to have a friend or relative who speaks English translate in court for you. However, if you will need help outside of the courtroom with getting information or filling out forms, you may get help from a friend or relative who speaks English.

How to request a court interpreter

  • Visit the Language Access page of your court’s website

    The procedure for requesting an interpreter varies from one court to another. Your court’s website will list the steps required by your specific court to request an interpreter.  

    Here is some information you should look for on your court’s website so you can understand your court’s requirements: 

    • Does my court require advanced notice for an interpreter to be present? 

    • What form does my court use for requesting an interpreter? (Most courts use INT 300 but others use a different form.) 

    • Does my court allow for interpreter requests to be made online or by email? 

    Use the “Find My Court” feature to quickly access your court’s language access information .

  • Fill out the form

    If your court requires a form to request an interpreter, your next step is to complete the form. The form is available in many languages but must be filled out in English.  Many courts use the Request for Interpreter (civil) (form INT-300).

    To complete the form, you need to know: 

    • Your case number 
    • Your case type (Divorce, Child Custody, Traffic) 
    • Language you need interpreted 
    • The date of your next hearing
  • Submit your request to the court

    After you complete the form in English, return it to the Interpreter Coordinator’s Office as follows:

            Trial Court LEP Plan Coordinator
            200 South "G" Street
            Madera, CA 93637
            (559) 232-0686
            E-mail: carla.ruiz@madera.courts.ca.gov

  • Confirm that the court received your request

    Contact the interpreter coordinator or language access representative in your court either by phone or email to confirm that your request has been received and approved. The contact information for these staff will be on your courts language access web page.

Tips for working with a court interpreter during your hearing

  • If you cannot hear or understand the interpreter tell the judge right away 

  • Speak loudly and clearly, at a normal pace or a little slower 

  • Speak only in your language  

  • Listen only to the interpreter  

  • Speak directly to the person asking the questions, not to the interpreter

Filing a Complaint

To file a complaint about interpreter services, please complete and submit Local Form MAD-INT-003 (Eng) or MAD-INT-004 (Span), which can be found on this site under Local Forms, or find the Language Access Complaint form at the State level on the Court Interpreter Complaints web page.