Harbor Justice Center: A Detailed Overview of Criminal Case Handling and Court Services

A photo of the Harbor Justice Center front entrance on a sunny day.


The Harbor Justice Center handles criminal cases in the Newport Beach area and South County. In other words, if your case originates from Irvine, Aliso Viejo, or Ladera Ranch, it will be handled at the Newport Beach Courthouse. This courthouse manages both misdemeanor cases, such as DUIs, public intoxication, shoplifting and domestic violence, as well as felony cases. Additionally, the courthouse offers services like One OC for Community Service and the Victim Witness Fund to compensate victims of crimes.

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Services and Programs Offered at the Harbor Justice Center

Several services are available at the Harbor Justice Center. The Orange County Superior Court provides criminal clerks for service at the courthouse. With the criminal clerks, you can ask questions about your case, inquire about arrest warrants, DUI probation violations, and look up any upcoming cases you have. Moreover, they also have computer terminals for case lookups and for logging in for your traffic court appearance. Other services available are TV screens that display your case information on the date of court and they also provide spaces for county agencies such as One OC and Victim Witness, so that you can check in and get information about arranging for community service and restitution for your case.

Location and Directions

If you are looking for directions to the Harbor Justice Center, the easiest way is to look for the 405 and exit at Jamboree. Once you are on the 405 and you exit at Jamboree, then head south towards Birch. Make a right on Birch and the courthouse will be on your right-hand side.

Visitor Tips When visiting the Harbor Justice Center, ensure you have the necessary paperwork. This may include your bail paperwork if it’s a felony, or your citation to appear if it’s a misdemeanor. If you have an attorney, they will advise you on which courtroom to appear in for a felony. For a misdemeanor, due to Penal Code 977 A, they will be able to appear for you so you don’t have to go to court.

How to Prepare for Your Visit to the Harbor Justice Center

As you prepare for your court visit, it’s important to have your paperwork and know what you are there for. If this is your first court date and you do not have an attorney, then you are likely looking at an arraignment. An arraignment is a court date where you can admit or deny the charges against you. If facing a felony charge, you will have a public defender appointed. For a misdemeanor charge, you will need to fill out a financial disclosure form to determine if you qualify for a public defender. Be punctual, arriving at the Harbor Justice Center by 8:30 AM, and check the TV screen to confirm which courtroom your case is in.

Courtroom Procedures

In many courtrooms, it is standard protocol to play a video advising you of your rights before the judge arrives, especially in department H8. This video discusses your constitutional rights, DA and judge offers, and is important to watch if you are not represented by an attorney.

What to Expect During Your Arrest or Court Appearance

The most important advice for your first court appearance is to look at the TV screen to find out where your case is. Once you find your case and the courtroom it’s in, go there and check in with the bailiff. Failing to check in with the bailiff may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. When called up, listen carefully to the judge for any offers or future court dates for your case.

How to Plead Guilty or Not Guilty

If you are representing yourself in court ie: going to court for a DUI without a lawyer , the procedure for pleading guilty is straightforward, and the judge will guide you. However, watch the video and listen for any offers that come your way from the Orange County District Attorney or the judge. Be aware that you might not fully understand the implications of these offers and the consequences of different pleas. If you decide to accept an offer, you can enter a plea of guilty or no contest, if appropriate. Remember, there are consequences to guilty pleas, including a criminal record, driver license suspensions for DUIs, or losing your gun rights in domestic violence cases.

How a Criminal Case Proceeds at the Harbor Justice Center

The progression of a criminal case at the Harbor Justice Center varies. For traffic cases, there are two proceedings: the arraignment and the court trial. The arraignment is where you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and the court trial phase is where you can resolve your case or fight it based on its merits. For a misdemeanor case, it starts with an arraignment in department H8 for first-time DUIs or H2 for repeat DUIs. After the arraignment or entering a plea of not guilty, the pretrial process begins within 30 to 45 days. During the pretrial, you negotiate your case and potentially obtain any relevant video or audio. If you cannot resolve your case at this stage, you may have a 1538.5 hearing or a jury trial. A 1538.5 hearing examines any violations in your case, while a trial involves 12 jurors deciding whether the District Attorney has proven their case in court.

General Information

Remembering the contact details and general information about the Harbor Justice Center is important, especially when you can’t make it to the courthouse to submit proof of completion for your alcohol class or MAD enrollment. In such cases, send these documents in advance to avoid unnecessary court visits. The mailing address for the Harbor Justice Center is provided below.

Mailing Addresses for the Harbor Justice Center

The mailing address for the Harbor Justice Center is 4601 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach. Make sure your envelope is addressed to the Orange County Superior Court to avoid confusion with other agencies sharing the same address. It’s crucial to specify Orange County Superior Court as the addressee.

Additional Information

The Harbor Justice Center’s court hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Most court operations start at 8:30 AM and end at 4:30 PM. As for security procedures, there is one main entrance with security checks. Do not bring lighters, weapons, drugs, or any illicit items into the courthouse for safety reasons. For information on arraignments or to check hearing dates, visit occourts.org. If you are facing a felony or a second or third DUI, be prepared to post bail, as repeat DUIs often raise public safety concerns. The court may remand you into custody if you’re considered a danger to society. Consult an attorney to ensure you can stay out of custody.


Facing criminal charges can be life-changing and may result in jail time. It’s important to take the right steps and consult an attorney about your options. Seek legal assistance and support as you navigate your criminal journey. While many cases may end with probation, it’s crucial to understand the severity of your charges, particularly those with potential jail time exposure, versus probation and a conviction on your record.

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