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Criminal Division

The Criminal Department files, processes, and maintains criminal records of misdemeanor and felony filings for Modoc County.

Frequently Asked Questions

A criminal case begins when a person is arrested, and charges are filed through the District Attorney or by an agency such as Modoc County Sheriff’s Department or Alturas 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.

An infraction is an offense punishable by a fine only, and which the law declares not 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.

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.

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.

Bail allows a defendant to be released from custody upon the posting of a bond, case deposit, or other security deemed necessary to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court.

The arraignment consists of reading the complaint or citation to the defendant and asking him/her whether he/she pleads guilty or not guilty.

A preliminary hearing is a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the case.

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.

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.

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, please 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.

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 the Collections Department 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, and credit/debit cards. Please do not mail cash. The Court only accepts U.S. Funds. Please make checks payable to Modoc Superior Court and include your case number on the check.

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)."

For information about assistance available to victims and victim restitution, please call the Modoc County Victim Witness Advocate at (530) 233-3311.

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.

No, you may be charged with a misdemeanor if you attempt to speak or motion to anyone in custody.

Contact the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department at (530) 233-4416, or stop in at 102 S. Court Street, Alturas, CA.

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 “Modoc 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 $40.00 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, first and last.
  • The case number, if known.
  • The name(s) of the document(s) you want copied.

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