At the beginning of 2022, the law regarding DUI diversion changed. DUIs are no longer eligible for diversion in California. Please contact our office with any questions. Email us at OR Call us at: (415) 523-7878

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What Cities Constitute Marin County In California?

Marin County is the county that is north of the Golden Gate Bridge. As you come across the bridge, you’re in Sausalito and Mill Valley. As you move further north, you’ve got Corte Madera, Greenbrae, and Kentfield. These are a number of the seven cities in Marin. Then you get to San Rafael, there’s West Marin, which has Inverness and other small areas in West Marin, and then Northern Marin is Novato. Most people would consider Marin a small county, but there’s a lot packed into it. Most of the DUIs tend to happen on Highway 101, the main thoroughfare through the county, which runs from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way north through Novato, eventually entering into Sonoma County through Petaluma.

A lot of people enter Marin County, coming from either Sonoma County or Napa County, and they get DUIs coming through, coming south. Other people are coming from San Francisco, and they’re going through Marin County, either home or to a northern county, and they’ll get stopped for a DUI.

Are Both Misdemeanor And Felony Cases Heard In Marin County Court?

Both misdemeanor and felony cases are heard in Marin County Court. The Marin County Superior Court is located at 3501, Civic Centre Drive, San Rafael, California 94903, to the east of the Highway 101. The building is a Frank Lloyd Wright building, which is known all over the world for its architectural magnificence. In the same building are the county offices, as well as the Board of Supervisors. Felonies and misdemeanor cases are typically heard in separate courtrooms. Felonies will typically start in Department M and go to one of the other departments down the hall, one of four or five other courtrooms down the hall.

Misdemeanors will actually start in Department N. An arraignment is usually done there, but sometimes the arraignment is moved to Department M. Depending on the type of misdemeanor, and whether they need a DA present, there would not be a District Attorney or an Assistant District Attorney in Department N for misdemeanors, but there will be in Department M. Department M is where the felonies are typically heard. Trials and motions are set in that department, but they usually are not heard in that department. Sometimes motions are heard in that department, but they normally have one of the newer judges, or they rotate if they don’t have a newer judge who will be in Department M. That judge will deal with the calendar. Typically, the 9 o’clock calendar is a misdemeanor calendar, which has a lot of DUIs on it every morning. As the morning goes on, they’ll have other cases. There will be some felony matters that are heard in there, and public defender matters are heard later in the morning. Any pre-trial discussions with the judge are typically heard between 11 and 11:30 in Department M. When you set up for trial, it’s sent to a different courtroom, which would be one of the other courtrooms down the hall.

What Can I Expect If A Friend Or Family Member Has Been Arrested In Marin County?

What you can expect if you are arrested in Marin County depends on what you have been arrested for. First, let’s talk about being arrested for a DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or the combined influence of alcohol and drugs. They should expect to go through a procedure in a very tough county. The arrest typically results in going to jail. Some counties will release you from the scene. Every once in a while this happens out in West Marin, someone might get released from the scene, but it’s pretty rare and that’s just because it’s a long way for them to drive off based on policy. Typically what happens is someone is pulled over, and after field sobriety tests, where they do or they don’t blow into a breath machine, and they’re arrested. They’re given the choice of a chemical test, either a breath test or a blood test. They must choose one, or it could be a refusal.

At that point, the person is either taken to a local police station or the hospital, and on rare occasions CHP. Typically someone’s taken straight to the Marin County jail, where an evidential breath test or a blood test is done. After that, they’ll be put in jail, and usually released within about 4 hours or later. Someone who’s typically arrested around mid-night will typically get out of jail between 5-7 in the morning, sometimes earlier if they’re lucky. Most people do not need to bail out of jail. If they’re from out of county, or have an out-of-state ID, then unfortunately there are some sheriffs and officers in the jail who will make people post bail. It is excessive, but it’s their policy. Additionally, people who are really giving them a hard time are sometimes punished by having to post a bail, because they didn’t pass the sheriff’s attitude test that night or morning.

Once someone’s released, they will be given a notice to appear in court. That notice will typically have them appearing in court within a month, usually about three weeks or so. Then, there will be a court date, which will be in Department N. Unless the misdemeanor DUI is represented by counsel, the attorney can show up for them. I show up for my clients all the time, whether they live in county, out of county, out of state, or out of the country. I go to court for my clients and take care of everything. Very often, I take care of the entire case without the client having to show up in court. If we do a suppression motion or a trial, I am going to want my client in court. It’s rare, but sometimes it does happen where it’s best for the client to be in the court, and it’s a lot easier if they live more locally.

If it’s a felony case, there is a bail set. They typically are not released on their own recognizance, they’d have to bail out, and they would have to appear at every court appearance. It’s rare when a Marin County judge allows someone who’s on a felony bail for a felony DUI to have his or her appearance waived. Most judges want them there, and you are required to be there according to the judges in Marin County. It’s tough to get around that. If someone lives out of state, it may be a little bit easier, but if you’re anywhere nearby, they are going to want you here every time. After the arraignment, I would enter a not guilty plea. Then we receive a court date, which is usually within 30 days. There’s another court appearance which is called a COPSET, which means Change of Plea or Setting.

Typically, the setting is interpreted as setting a new COPSET date after that, and we can go back to court many times before a motion happens, though sometimes the motions happen fairly quickly. It depends on the strategy of the case and sometimes, eventually a trial is set. It can take 6 months to a year before a trial actually happens, and potentially longer than that. These cases will go on for at least a few months—4 to 6 months is the norm, unless there is a compelling reason to end the case sooner. I try never to sacrifice results for speed. We’re always trying to get the best results, and the first thing we’re trying to do with these cases is get them dismissed. We need to look at a lot of evidence, a lot of investigation before we can determine whether or not we can make the case go away, or how to make the case go away. Only after that is when we start talking about trying to get a reduced charge, or go into a jury trial.

For more information on Cities In Marin County, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

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Aaron Bortel
With 30 years of specialized experience in DUI defense, Attorney Aaron Bortel is a dedicated advocate for those facing DUI charges in the Bay Area. Committed to helping clients avoid jail, save their driver’s licenses and jobs, and prevent permanent criminal records, he combines deep legal expertise with genuine care for his client's welfare. Trust in a lawyer who not only defends but truly supports you through challenging times.

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