Code Section Group

Penal Code - PEN


  ( Part 2 enacted 1872. )


  ( Heading of Title 3 amended by Stats. 1951, Ch. 1674. )

CHAPTER 3. Complaints Before Magistrates [806 - 810]
  ( Heading of Chapter 3 amended by Stats. 1951, Ch. 1674. )


A proceeding for the examination before a magistrate of a person on a charge of a felony must be commenced by written complaint under oath subscribed by the complainant and filed with the magistrate. Such complaint may be verified on information and belief. When the complaint is used as a pleading to which the defendant pleads guilty under Section 859a of this code, the complaint shall contain the same allegations, including the charge of prior conviction or convictions of crime, as are required for indictments and informations and, wherever applicable, shall be construed and shall have substantially the same effect as provided in this code for indictments and informations.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 931, Sec. 359. Effective September 28, 1998.)


A magistrate is an officer having power to issue a warrant for the arrest of a person charged with a public offense.

(Enacted 1872.)


The following persons are magistrates:

(a) The judges of the Supreme Court.

(b) The judges of the courts of appeal.

(c) The judges of the superior courts.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 62, Sec. 229. Effective January 1, 2004.)


The night-time commissioner of the Santa Clara County Superior Court shall be considered a magistrate for the purpose of conducting prompt probable cause hearings for persons arrested without an arrest warrant as mandated by law.

(Added by Stats. 1993, Ch. 909, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 1994.)


(a) The presiding judge of the superior court in a county shall, as often as is necessary, designate on a schedule not less than one judge of the court to be reasonably available on call as a magistrate for the setting of orders for discharge from actual custody upon bail, the issuance of search warrants, and for such other matters as may by the magistrate be deemed appropriate, at all times when a court is not in session in the county.

(b) The officer in charge of a jail, or a person the officer designates, in which an arrested person is held in custody shall assist the arrested person or the arrested person’s attorney in contacting the magistrate on call as soon as possible for the purpose of obtaining release on bail.

(c) Any telephone call made pursuant to this section by an arrested person while in custody or by such person’s attorney shall not count or be considered as a telephone call for purposes of Section 851.5 of the Penal Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 784, Sec. 530. Effective January 1, 2003.)

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