Disposition of Exhibits in Criminal Cases

The Clerk of the Court shall retain all exhibits which have been introduced or filed in a criminal case until final determination of the case. Final determination of a criminal case is reached when one of the following occurs:

  1. Thirty days after the last day for filing a Notice of Appeal, where no appeal is filed;
  2. If a Notice of Appeal is filed, thirty (30) days after the Clerk of the Court receives the Fifth District Court of Appeal's Remittitur affirming the trial court judgement;
  3. When an order for a rehearing, a new trial, or other proceeding is granted and the court-ordered proceedings have not begun within one year thereafter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Criminal Case Exhibits:

How do I get an exhibit returned prior to final determination?

If you are the owner of the exhibit(s), you or your agent may draft a Stipulation and Order for the Release of Exhibits for any/all exhibits you desire when the following conditions are met on the order:

  1. All parties to the action stipulate to the release of the original exhibit(s) without prejudice;
  2. All exhibits to be released are identified in the Stipulation and Order by the court's assigned exhibit number as introduced during proceedings, and
  3. The party requesting the release of the original exhibits cites in his/her Stipulation and Order the statute authority to obtain the original record(s) by providing the court with a photographic record of the original items being returned, pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code Section 1417.3

What happens to exhibits after final determination of the case?

Sixty (60) days after final determination of the case, the Clerk of the Court shall dispose of all criminal exhibits in the following manner:

  1. A 15-Day Notice is sent to the attorneys for all parties, or to the defendant directly if he/she was not represented by counsel at the hearing/trial, informing all parties that they have fifteen (15) days in which to apply to the Clerk of the Court for the return of their exhibits;
  2. Upon application for return of exhibits, the Clerk of the Court shall file an Order for Disposition/Destruction of Exhibits and return the exhibits to the party who introduced them during proceedings.
  3. Exhibits for any party who does not respond to the notice within the fifteen (15) day time limit shall be disposed of as follows:
    1. Stolen or embezzled property other than money will be disposed of pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code Section 1417.6,
    2. Unclaimed monies shall be deposited with the Kern County Treasurer's Office,
    3. Property items shall be transferred to the appropriate county agency for public auction unless the county determines the item is needed for public use, and
    4. All documentary exhibits will be destroyed.

What happens to weapons, drugs, explosives and/or illegal property which is used in the commission of a crime or seized by a law enforcement agent?

Such items are deemed nuisances and are disposed of under court order. They are not returned to the party from whom they were seized.

The following is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, please refer to Penal Code Section 1417 et. seq. for the law.