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Overall Goals Of The Presentation. To Assist Providers In Determining Their Clients Eligibility For Homeless Court To Ensure Advocacy Letters And Packets Are Ready And Responsive To The Client’s Underlying Issues Of Homelessness And Criminal Behavior. Section I. Homeless Court Eligibility.

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overall goals of the presentation
Overall Goals Of The Presentation
  • To Assist Providers In Determining Their Clients Eligibility For Homeless Court
  • To Ensure Advocacy Letters And Packets Are Ready And Responsive To The Client’s Underlying Issues Of Homelessness And Criminal Behavior
section i

Section I

Homeless Court Eligibility

eligible homeless court participants

Eligible Homeless Court Participants

To Be Eligible For Homeless Court The Client MUST

Be homeless or is at risk of homelessness
  • Be addressing his/her greatest need and underlying root cause of homelessness in partnership with program provider
  • Meet or exceed the program provider’s “Entry Criteria”
  • Be in compliance with program criteria
  • Submit proof of accomplishments to defense attorney at the counseling session
  • Experiencing a cause that contributes to homelessness (or risk of homelessness), i.e. economic hardship, mental and/or physical health issue, disability, substance abuse
  • Provide proof of one eligible criminal case (i.e. citation, court docket, Alliance One letter, DMV printout – see guidebook for examples)
  • The provider must use discretion to make referrals that are in the best interest of the client and will also benefit the community as a whole
eligible homeless court cases

Eligible Homeless Court Cases

Homeless court is designed to address most misdemeanor and infraction cases issued within San Diego County.

Homeless Court is NOT to be used:

By individuals who are not part of the provider’s program

To determine if your client has any tickets

the following cases are eligible for homeless court
The Following Cases ARE Eligible For Homeless Court
  • Offenses that occurred in San Diego County
  • Pending (active) misdemeanor offenses or infractions (Pending cases means cases that the client has not yet plead guilty to)
    • Examples: vagrancy, misdemeanor DUI, trolley tickets, public intoxication, jay walking, moving violations
  • Further Proceedings (Cases where a client has already plead guilty but still owes the court a term or condition of probation such as money)
homeless court cannot hear the following cases currently
Homeless Court CANNOT Hear The Following Cases (currently)
  • Cases outside of San Diego County (Please see Appendix VI in your guidebook for a list of out of county criminal court contacts.)
  • Parking Violations (including expired registration cited with parking tickets OR any other offense attached to the parking violation)
  • Domestic Violence Cases (“Domestic Disturbance” cases ARE eligible)
  • Prop 36 Cases
  • Civil Cases
  • Juvenile Cases (Any cases that occurred when your client was under 18 EXCEPT traffic related offenses – trolley tickets, driving without a license, etc.)
  • All felony cases and probation related costs
  • All federal cases
  • Impound or DMV fees

NOTE: If you have any questions about whether or not a case can be heard you should contact Steve Binder for clarification!!! Steve.binder@sdcounty.ca.gov

finding client s cases

Finding Client’s Cases

There are a variety of ways to get information about cases within the county. The provider must take into account the overall health of the client in deciding how best to access these resources.

finding out if a client has a warrant
Finding Out If A Client Has A Warrant

Go onto the sheriffs’ website and enter your client’s name and date of birth to see if there is an outstanding warrant. This can be done by going to the site listed below.



The link will take you to a page similar to this and will let you know what type of charge your client has and whether Homeless Court would be appropriate

This will bring up the following page:

finding out if your client has eligible cases in person

Finding Out If Your Client Has Eligible Cases In Person

If your client has the actual ticket that the police officer gave him/her you can use that to determine if your client’s cases are eligible for homeless court. (Please see Appendix I of the guidebook for a copy of a citation.)



It can take up to a year for the ticket your client was issued to enter the court system! Homeless Court can only take care of tickets that are in the court system!!! Homeless Court cannot help your client until the ticket enters the court system! The only 100% way to know if your client’s case is in the court system is to go down to the courthouse and ask!

going to the courthouse
Going to the Courthouse
  • If your client does not have an outstanding warrant:
  • Send your client down to the local court house to retrieve a list of open cases from the Clerk’s Office (see Appendix II of the guidebook for a complete list of court houses)
  • This is the best way to get case numbers

Note: If your client is unable or fearful of going to the courthouse, you – The Provider – can go on their behalf (all you need is their name and date of birth.) You or your client just need to ask for “a list of all open misdemeanor or infraction cases ‘Johnny’ has on file.”

going to the dmv

Going To The DMV

The DMV also keeps records of all traffic related offenses an individual has. You can go down to the DMV and request a print out of any case, fines or fees associated with a persons DMV record (See Appendix III of the guidebook for an example of a DMV print out)

NOTE: The DMV ONLY keeps a record of traffic related offenses! The Courthouse is the ONLY place where you can go to get a complete list of an individual’s offenses!

going to alliance one
Going To Alliance One
  • Alliance One also keeps records of all cases your client has that have gone to collections.
  • Every courthouse has an Alliance One office (see Appendix II of the guidebook for a list of San Diego Courthouses)
  • You may also call Alliance One to learn more about a client’s case at 877-541-8420
  • You or your client can get a print out from Alliance One with information on cases that have been sent to collections. (See Appendix IV of the guidebook for examples of an Alliance One print out.)

NOTE: Cases sent to Alliance One include felony cases AND cases from out of county!!! The only way to be sure that your client has an eligible case for Homeless Court is to go down to the courthouse misdemeanor office and check!!!

finding out if your client has eligible cases over the internet

Finding Out if Your Client Has Eligible Cases Over The Internet

If your agency has the funds to do so, you can also access this website and request his/her public records. There is a fee for this site!!!


Data base Web-Site With A Fee

free web site

Free Web-Site

If you have a case number or are looking for case numbers for your client you can use this website to get information. You can search by name or by case number.

NOTE: This web-site will only show open cases BUT IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST! Your client may still have eligible cases even if this web-site cannot find any!


determining if a violation code is eligible for homeless court
Determining If A Violation Code Is Eligible For Homeless Court
  • Remember only certain misdemeanors and infractions issued in San Diego County are excluded from Homeless Court. (See slide 6.)
  • If you are unsure if a certain violation is eligible for homeless court, you can look up violation codes at the following websites OR see attached “cheat sheet” provided by DLA Piper with violation codes and their corresponding offenses (Appendix V in the guidebook)
  • Misdemeanor Codes: www.leginfo.ca.gov
  • Example: PC 647(e) = Penal Code 647(e) = Illegal Lodging
  • San Diego Municipal Codes:
  • http://www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/officialdocs/legisdocs/muni.shtml
section ii

Section II

Preparing A Client For Homeless Court

preparing your client for one homeless court event
Preparing Your Client For One Homeless Court Event

To Ensure That All Of Your Client’s Cases Can Be Heard During One Homeless Court Session:

  • Ask the client where the citation was issued, (Central, South Bay, North County, East County). If the client has the hard copy of the citation, a phone number of the respective court is listed. (Traffic citations issued in San Diego will be heard in the Kearney Mesa Court.)
  • Call or visit the court where the citation was issued and verify that the case has been submitted to the court system database and that an appearance date has been issued.
  • If necessary, obtain a continuance to delay the court appearance, avoid a Failure to Appear and qualify for the next Homeless Court.


If the case is not in the court system database, and the disposition of the old cases will not affect the client, hold the old cases over until the new case is in the database so that all cases can be resolved at the same time, rather than have the client appear more than once!

The ONLY exception to this rule is with traffic tickets…Any traffic related offense can lead to a suspended license and needs to be handled right away!

submitting an interest list
Submitting An Interest List
  • Depending how recent ticket(s) are will determine when to submit a client’s name to the next month’s docket
  • Email the electronic interest list spreadsheet to Office of the Public Defender prior to the last Monday of the month deadline:
  • Jacqueline.Dimarzo@sdcounty.ca.gov
  • Steve.Binder@sdcounty.ca.gov
  • NOTE:Names should be listed – last name, first name. Example Kriste Draper should be listed as Draper, Kriste
  • Must include birth date and all possible variations of client’s name and spellings, i.e. aka’s, maiden name
  • Must include one eligible court case number (see Appendix I, III, IV of the guidebook for examples of citation numbers)
  • Complete “Agreement to Appear” form and give to client (keep a copy for yourself); make sure to check off the correct location of the month’s session!
advocacy letter must include
Advocacy Letter MUST include:
  • Description of the program and services
  • Client’s start date and length of time in program
  • Summary of client’s circumstances
  • Insight into client’s efforts to overcome challenges and make positive change
  • Highlight client accomplishments and goals (attach documents/certificates/endorsements) such as:
    • Academic/life skills training - Counseling (individual and/or group)
    • Employment - Medical (physical/mental health) care
    • Substance abuse treatment - Sobriety Date
    • AA/NA meeting attendance - School Records
    • Transit pass and/or driver’s license -Housing Documents
    • Community Service
  • Include numerical value to your client’s efforts. (Include number of work hours, number of meetings, etc.)
  • Reconcile past offense(s) against client’s current accomplishments – do NOT list offenses or “explain offense;” doing so could present harmful legal ramifications
  • Statement from client discussing what program did for him/her, best part of the program, etc.
Provide THREE (3) collated packets of advocacy letter, certificates and supporting documents. (Collated = Each packet must have an advocacy letter on top with supporting documents underneath, do NOT send 3 advocacy letters stapled together and 3 certificates stapled together!)
  • Client should bring all documentation related to their case (DMV printouts, Alliance One correspondence, citations, etc. (Do NOT include in packets, this is information for your client’s attorney only!!)
  • Counseling always starts at 9 a.m.
  • Communicate with the Public Defender should your client miss the counseling session
    • Verify that your client will be present for the court hearing and communicate this with the Public Defender
  • Provider appearance is essential, but not mandatory
  • Client should be prepared for discussion with a defense attorney
attending homeless court hearing
Attending Homeless Court Hearing
  • Court always starts at 1 p.m.
  • Encourage your client to dress their best and keep children at home
  • Charges, warrants, and penalties are formally resolved
  • 90% of cases are dismissed
section iii
Section III

Continuing A Case In

Traditional Court


When asking a client about any tickets or infractions they have you may learn that a client has an outstanding warrant for an offense or has an upcoming court appearance for one of his/her tickets.

Going to “traditional court” to take care of a warrant or to continue a case can be very empowering for a client and may also save them from being found guilty of another crime (failing to appear in court) or from being arrested on an active warrant.

step 1 determining if your client has a warrant
Step 1: Determining If Your Client Has A Warrant
  • You can use the sheriff’s web-site


  • You can also go down to the courthouse and inquire in the business office
    • You must have your client’s name and date of birth!

NOTE: Went searching just use the last name of your client…this is a case where less is more!

step 2 going to court to remove a warrant or continue a case
Step 2: Going To Court To Remove A Warrant Or Continue A Case

Gather The Proper Information

  • You should go to court with your client OR provide your client with a detailed letter (similar to the advocacy letter we require for Homeless Court) outlining all of your clients accomplishments and what you would like the court to do – example: You would ask that the court continue “Johnny’s case until after he is scheduled to appear in Homeless Court.)

Picking The Right Courthouse

  • When your client is issued a ticket, the officer designates which courthouse your client must appear in.
    • Look at the bottom of the ticket (the courthouse will be circled or marked)
    • If your client does not know which courthouse, you can go to the business office in any San Diego courthouse and they will tell you. (Courthouses are divided up by region, with tickets issued in each region being handled in their respective courthouses)
    • See Appendix II in your guidebook for a list of courthouses
going to court for a warrant
Going To Court For A Warrant

There is no guarantee that when your client goes to court to ask that a warrant be lifted the judge will agree!

Any time your client goes to court for a warrant there is

the possibility that s/he will be arrested and detained in jail!

However, if your client chooses not to go to court to take care of the warrant and is arrested on the street, both the judge and prosecution tend to be less lenient!

If your client refuses to go to court to take care of his/her warrant, one option is to have your client carry around his/her Agreement To Appear for Homeless Court. While there is no law that requires this, police officers have at times not arrested clients with active warrants who can show proof that they have an upcoming court hearing in Homeless Court.

step 3 checking in at the courthouse
Step 3: Checking In At The Courthouse

Whether your client has missed his/her court date, is appearing before his/her court date or is showing up on time – s/he must check in with the business office

  • You may call the business office ahead of time to find out what time your client needs to be at the courthouse
  • You or your client will ask the court clerk to put your client “on calendar” and they will tell you where you need to go for court.
  • An attorney will come out and speak with you and your client can hand over any paperwork you have provided on their behalf
step 4 continuing a case until after homeless court
Step 4: Continuing A Case Until After Homeless Court

With either a warrant or an upcoming court date you want to request that the court “continue the matter until after the homeless court date.” (Your attorney will make the request to the judge – your job is just to let the attorney know that this is what you want for your client.) Often what will happen is that the court will set another court date after the Homeless Court date and if your client’s case(s) are not resolved in homeless court s/he will need to appear in court on that date. If your clients cases are taken care of in Homeless Court then your client will not need to go back to court for those cases.

continuing a traffic case on line for 30 days
Continuing A Traffic Case On-Line For 30 Days

Traffic Court is slightly different than the other criminal courts. Your client will not be given an attorney to represent him/her, so if you can go with your client it is very helpful.

You can continue a traffic offense for 30 days on-line. Follow these steps:

  • Go To: http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov OR call 619-906-5888
  • Click on “Traffic” on the heading banner
  • Click “Request an Extension of Court Appearance Date”
  • Click “Request Extension”
  • You will need a case number OR citation number AND a date of birth for your client


A traffic case can only be continued prior to your clients “date to appear” located on the bottom of his/her ticket.

If a 30 day continuance is not long enough to get your client through Homeless Court, you will need to go down to the court house to ask for a longer extension


Step One: Initial Contact

  • Any organization that wishes to be a part of the San Diego Homeless Court Provider Network must first get in touch with either:

Stephanie Morehead - Stephanie.morehead@sdcounty.ca.gov

Steve Binder - Steve.binder@sdcounty.ca.gov

  • Steve and Stephanie will coordinate all new provider training and orientation. A new provider may not submit an interest list to Homeless Court before receiving training and orientation!

Step Two: Court Observation 

  • Each new agency will first have to attend one counseling session and one Homeless Court session. If at the conclusion of these observations the provider agency feels that Homeless court would be a good fit for their organization they will again contact either Steve or Stephanie.

Step Three:Filling Out A Statement Of Services

  • Steve and/or Stephanie will provide the new provider with the provider statement template and examples of existing statements to help the new provider work on their statement.

Step Four: Meeting Defense Counsel And Existing Providers

  • The new provider agency will meet with defense counsel and an existing provider agency to go over Homeless Court program requirements and to receive training on how to prepare clients for Homeless Court.
thank you

Thank you

To all of the wonderful people who helped make this training and guidebook possible:

Alex Heyer Steve Binder

Dennis Vermeersch Linda Diaz

Stephanie Morehead Charles Lyles

Bert Capati Adam Garson

Nicole King Jennifer Feldman

DLA Piper Kriste Draper