If you were arrested or cited in or near the city of San Bernardino for a criminal charge, you likely were given a notice to appear at the San Bernardino Superior Court located in downtown San Bernardino. This is intended to be a guide to give you an idea of what you should expect and provide some helpful tips.
The courthouse has two main parking lots. The first is the courthouse parking lot is located at the intersection of North Arrowhead Ave and West 2nd Street. There are two issues with this parking lot you should be aware of: 1) the parking is small and typically fills up by 8:00 AM; and 2) the parking is only for 3 hours, so be prepared to move your car at some point depending on how long you are there. It is the most convenient parking because it is in front of the courthouse.s
The second choice is the jury parking located at the intersection West 4th Street and North Sierra Way. This parking lot is large and is usually fairly empty. This parking lot is across the street from the courthouse. You should plan on the walk taking at least 10 minutes. This parking lot is all day so no need to move your car. While less convenient in terms of distance, park here if you are worried about having to leave the courthouse on your court date.
The courthouse requires everyone to go through a metal detector. This is the most unpredictable part when planning when to arrive. Some days the line snakes its way literally out the door and other days you can walk to the front with no issue. If you have a specific time to appear in court, I would suggest planning to take at least 30 minutes minimum to get through security. Yes, you will probably end up early but it is better than a warrant being issued for your arrest because the person in front of you does not understand all metallic items have to be removed. I would also advice everyone to find your name on the display screens to see which courtroom you must appear in if you don't know already. All the elevators have the courtroom numbers along with their floor on the inside near the floor buttons.
Assuming you have made it to your assigned court, on time, the next step is to wait for roll call. Do not enter the court, wait outside the doors. At 8:30 AM, the bailiff will come out of the courtroom and call the names of those who are assigned to that courtroom. Make sure to listen for your name and let the bailiff know you are present, if you do not check in the bailiff might mark you as missing. You should enter the courtroom and have a seat where directed. At some point, the judge will enter the room. The judge will begin calling names one at a time, no you cannot change the order, so do not ask. When your name is called, you will stand up and move to the center, away from the benches. You will be read your rights if it was not done so by audio recording and read the charges you are facing. The judge will assign a pre-trial date for you to return.
Importance of showing up on time
Why is it so important for you to know about and plan for parking and security? If you are not waiting outside the right courtroom by 8:30 AM, the judge may believe you have failed to appear. Your court date is an order from the court. When you disobey that order, the judge will likely issue a bench warrant, commonly known as an arrest warrant. In addition to the warrant, a charge of failure to appear may be added to your case as either an infraction or misdemeanor. This means increased penalties and bail, if applicable, to your case. So make sure you plan ahead if you have an appearance in the San Bernardino Superior Court. There is no need to add to the stress that already comes with a criminal case!
If you need additional information on what to expect, call the Law Offices of Steven McNicholl at (951) 405-0990. We can even appear for you and you won't have to worry about this guide! Information on specific charges can be accessed here.