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Court Divisions

The Court is organized to best meet your legal needs. Each of the divisions below hears different kinds of cases. Some types of cases, such as Traffic cases, are only heard at one courthouse. Other types of cases, such as Criminal and Family cases, are heard at a number of courthouses in the County.

  • Appellate

    The Appellate Division decides appeals in misdemeanor, traffic and limited civil jurisdiction cases only.

  • Civil

    Civil cases involve violation of private rights rather than violation of criminal law. A civil matter involves a lawsuit in which one party sues another to recover money or property, to enforce a contract or an obligation, to collect damages for injury or to protect some civil right.

  • Collaborative Courts

    Santa Clara County Superior Court is proud to be a pioneer and state leader in specialized courts and calendars which utilize the principles of therapeutic and restorative justice to more effectively deal with the problems of certain target populations.

  • Criminal

    Criminal cases range from relatively minor offenses such as traffic infractions to serious ones like robbery and murder. The State, as the protector of all the people, makes the charge against the accused, because a crime is considered an act against society.

  • Family

    The Family Division hears cases involving divorce and legal separation, child and spousal support, child custody and visitation, restraining orders, mediation and arbitration. Family Court Services is also part of the Family Division, and handles mediation and parent orientation.

  • Juvenile

    The Juvenile Division handles cases of children under 18 years of age who violate any law or are accused of a crime (which falls into Juvenile Justice Court), or any children who are abused or neglected (which falls into Juvenile Dependency Court).

  • Probate

    The Probate Division handles a range of issues involving adults and children. Matters that fall into probate include transfer of property of people who have died, wills & trusts, adoption, conservatorships, guardianships, and name changes.

  • Small Claims

    The Small Claims Court is a special court in which disputes are resolved inexpensively and quickly. The rules are simple, the hearing is informal. and attorneys are not allowed. Small Claims cases are heard in the Downtown Superior Court (DTS).

  • Traffic

    Traffic Court deals with violations of traffic laws and other minor offenses. These violations are considered “infractions” and include, for example, speeding and expired licenses. Traffic infractions are enforced by the issuance of traffic tickets (“citations”).