Felony Cases


If you have been charged with a felony in Santa Clara County, your case will proceed in the following manner:

(10 Court Days)
(15 Calendar Days)


ARRAIGNMENT: Typically, you are advised of your charges and asked if you have a private attorney or need a public defender. If you need a public Defender, indicate so at this time.

PLEA: This is where you plead "Guilty," "Not Guilty," or "Nolo Contendere" (No Contest). Your attorney can explain the differences to you.

PRELIMINARY HEARING: This is when the court will determine if the District Attorney has enough evidence against you to hold your case over for trial. This hearing must occur within 10 court days of your plea, unless you waive time to give your attorney more time to prepare. Court days do not include weekends and holidays.

WAIVE TIME: You have the right to a preliminary hearing and trial within certain statutory time limits. If it is necessary to continue your case beyond these deadlines, you will be asked to "waive time." Waiving time means that you will allow your attorney more time to prepare your case. It is very common to "waive time" in criminal cases because it is important for your attorney to have sufficient time to prepare.

SUPERIOR COURT ARRAIGNMENT: This is when you are read your charges in Superior Court and your case is set for trial. This must be done within 15 calendar days of your preliminary hearing. Calendar days include weekends and holidays.

Public Defender Representation


MEET WITH PARALEGAL: The Paralegal will screen your case for financial eligibility and will report your side of the case to your assigned attorney. You will be asked about your income because there is a legal limit to how much money you can earn and still be eligible for Public Defender services.

ATTORNEY ASSIGNED: After you meet with the Paralegal, your case will be assigned to an attorney. You may call the Public Defender's Office before your next court date to get your attorney's name.

MEET WITH ATTORNEY: Make an appointment to meet with your attorney. You should not wait until the last day before court to speak to your attorney.

CONTACTING YOUR ATTORNEY: If you are in custody there is a direct call number for the Office of the Public Defender and the Alternate Defender's Office. You can also view the staff directory to obtain your attorney's direct line and call him/her collect from your facility. If you are out of custody you can call the main office number (408) 299-7700 or your attorney's direct line.

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