Skip to main content
Skip to main content.

Criminal Division

What is a Criminal Case?

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 someone accused of committing a crime because a crime is considered an act against society. Only the State, through the office of the District Attorney in each county, can charge individuals with criminal violations.

The prosecuting attorney presents the charge against the accused person (defendant) on behalf of the State (plaintiff), and must prove to the judge or jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

California statutes generally classify a crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor:

  • A felony is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or by death.
  • A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony and generally is punishable by fine or imprisonment in county jail rather than in a state penitentiary.

For more information on criminal cases, see our criminal Self-Help pages.

Where Are Criminal Cases Heard?

Criminal cases are heard in the Hall of Justice in downtown San Jose, as well as in the Family Justice Center (Drug Court), Palo Alto, and South County Courthouses.

Inmate Information for this County

The Santa Clara County Department of Corrections DOC website has information regarding individuals in custody.

The DOC also provides an online service where you can look up inmate booking information.