What You Need to Know about Fresno County Courthouses
While going to the Fresno County Superior Court and Civil Courthouse may not be places that you are happy to go to, they are essential to the county’s operations and safety. The information in this post will help you navigate the different courts in Fresno County and their purposes. There are four courthouses in Fresno – Criminal Law, Civil Courthouse, M Street Courthouse, and the Juvenile Delinquency Courthouse.
Fresno Criminal Law Courthouse
The main courthouse, located on Van Ness Avenue, is a tall honeycomb building where most of the county’s criminal cases are handled. This courthouse sees the following types of cases:
- Domestic violence cases
- Drug court cases
- Juvenile dependency hearings
- Felony and misdemeanor traffic cases
The two basement-level floors are used for misdemeanor cases mental health court. These two floors are busy because nearly all of the county’s misdemeanors are heard here. The remaining floors are for drug court, felony cases, and juvenile dependency cases. The four courtrooms on the second floor hear all three types of cases. The third floor’s five courtrooms are for all hearings except for felony cases, and as such, it’s the busiest floor. Drug court consists of a team that coordinates probationary and judicial supervision, substance abuse treatment, drug screening, and ancillary services for offenders who have drug-related charges.
The fifth floor has five courtrooms used for criminal trials, and the same is true for the eight courtrooms on the sixth and seventh floors. The fourth floors are used for court administration, including the clerk’s office.
The criminal Law Courthouse also have a North Annex that houses two departments that are used exclusively for domestic violence cases, both misdemeanor and felony cases.
Fresno Civil Courthouse
Fresno’s Civil Courthouse is on O Street downtown and is known as the B.F. Sisk Courthouse, after a prominent, local politician. This courthouse hears only family law and local civil matters for the county. These cases include:
- Civil cases, limited and unlimited (limited are those involving $25,000 or less, except small claims cases, and unlimited are all those remaining except probate and family law).
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Family court services
- Restraining orders
- Child and spousal support hearings
- Civil harassment cases
- Unlawful detainer
- Small claims cases
The Civil Courthouse isn’t as busy and crowded as the Criminal Court on Van Ness. The courthouse has five floors, and a very busy clerk’s office, which is located on the first floor. The Clerk’s Office handles many matters including motions, appeals, and other processing. On the second floor, there are four courtrooms that are used for family law cases. The third floor has four courtrooms that are also used for family law, as well as probate cases. The four and fifth floors are used for civil matters besides family law and probate in their six courtrooms.
Fresno M Street Courthouse
Just as the name suggests, the Fresno M Street Courthouse is located on M Street in downtown Fresno. It’s the smallest of the county courthouses and it hears only traffic cases. This courthouse is home to two courtrooms, one that is used for juvenile traffic hearings, and another that is for adults with traffic offenses. The M Street Courthouse only hears cases with standard infractions, not felony and misdemeanor matters.
Fresno Juvenile Delinquency Courthouse
The county’s Juvenile court is help in the Juvenile Delinquency Courthouse on American Avenue. All of the county’s criminal cases that involve defendants who are minors are heard in this courthouse. However, there are cases in which juveniles are tried as adults. In those situations, the defendants are sent to the main courthouse on Van Ness Avenue.
Final Thoughts about Fresno’s Courthouses
If you have to attend one of the above courthouses in Fresno, there are some important things to remember. First, you will have to pass through a metal detector and an x-ray machine (like those found at airports) to prevent any weapons from being taken into court. Additionally, it’s important to adhere to the court’s dress code if you will be involved in any courtroom case. You don’t want to be turned away from the case that brought you there because of what you’re wearing.