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Chapter 1. of the Arraignment of the Defendant - California Penal Code Section 977

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977.  (a) (1) In all cases in which the accused is charged with a
misdemeanor only, he or she may appear by counsel only, except as
provided in paragraphs (2) and (3). If the accused agrees, the
initial court appearance, arraignment, and plea may be by video, as
provided by subdivision (c).
   (2) If the accused is charged with a misdemeanor offense involving
domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, or
a misdemeanor violation of Section 273.6, the accused shall be
present for arraignment and sentencing, and at any time during the
proceedings when ordered by the court for the purpose of being
informed of the conditions of a protective order issued pursuant to
Section 136.2.
   (3) If the accused is charged with a misdemeanor offense involving
driving under the influence, in an appropriate case, the court may
order a defendant to be present for arraignment, at the time of plea,
or at sentencing. For purposes of this paragraph, a misdemeanor
offense involving driving under the influence shall include a
misdemeanor violation of any of the following:
   (A) Subdivision (b) of Section 191.5.
   (B) Section 23103 as specified in Section 23103.5 of the Vehicle
Code.
   (C) Section 23152 of the Vehicle Code.
   (D) Section 23153 of the Vehicle Code.
   (b) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (c), in all cases in
which a felony is charged, the accused shall be personally present at
the arraignment, at the time of plea, during the preliminary
hearing, during those portions of the trial when evidence is taken
before the trier of fact, and at the time of the imposition of
sentence. The accused shall be personally present at all other
proceedings unless he or she shall, with leave of court, execute in
open court, a written waiver of his or her right to be personally
present, as provided by paragraph (2). If the accused agrees, the
initial court appearance, arraignment, and plea may be by video, as
provided by subdivision (c).
   (2) The accused may execute a written waiver of his or her right
to be personally present, approved by his or her counsel, and the
waiver shall be filed with the court. However, the court may
specifically direct the defendant to be personally present at any
particular proceeding or portion thereof. The waiver shall be
substantially in the following form:
                     "Waiver of Defendant's Personal Presence"
   "The undersigned defendant, having been advised of his or her
right to be present at all stages of the proceedings, including, but
not limited to, presentation of and arguments on questions of fact
and law, and to be confronted by and cross-examine all witnesses,
hereby waives the right to be present at the hearing of any motion or
other proceeding in this cause. The undersigned defendant hereby
requests the court to proceed during every absence of the defendant
that the court may permit pursuant to this waiver, and hereby agrees
that his or her interest is represented at all times by the presence
of his or her attorney the same as if the defendant were personally
present in court, and further agrees that notice to his or her
attorney that his or her presence in court on a particular day at a
particular time is required is notice to the defendant of the
requirement of his or her appearance at that time and place."


   (c) (1) The court may permit the initial court appearance and
arraignment of defendants held in any state, county, or local
facility within the county on felony or misdemeanor charges, except
for those defendants who were indicted by a grand jury, to be
conducted by two-way electronic audiovideo communication between the
defendant and the courtroom in lieu of the physical presence of the
defendant in the courtroom. If the defendant is represented by
counsel, the attorney shall be present with the defendant at the
initial court appearance and arraignment, and may enter a plea during
the arraignment. However, if the defendant is represented by counsel
at an arraignment on an information in a felony case, and if the
defendant does not plead guilty or nolo contendere to any charge, the
attorney shall be present with the defendant or if the attorney is
not present with the defendant, the attorney shall be present in
court during the hearing. The defendant shall have the right to make
his or her plea while physically present in the courtroom if he or
she so requests. If the defendant decides not to exercise the right
to be physically present in the courtroom, he or she shall execute a
written waiver of that right. A judge may order a defendant's
personal appearance in court for the initial court appearance and
arraignment. In a misdemeanor case, a judge may, pursuant to this
subdivision, accept a plea of guilty or no contest from a defendant
who is not physically in the courtroom. In a felony case, a judge
may, pursuant to this subdivision, accept a plea of guilty or no
contest from a defendant who is not physically in the courtroom if
the parties stipulate thereto.
   (2) (A) A defendant who does not wish to be personally present for
noncritical portions of the trial when no testimonial evidence is
taken may make an oral waiver in open court prior to the proceeding
or may submit a written request to the court, which the court may
grant in its discretion. The court may, when a defendant has waived
the right to be personally present, require a defendant held in any
state, county, or local facility within the county on felony or
misdemeanor charges to be present for noncritical portions of the
trial when no testimonial evidence is taken, including, but not
limited to, confirmation of the preliminary hearing, status
conferences, trial readiness conferences, discovery motions, receipt
of records, the setting of the trial date, a motion to vacate the
trial date, and motions in limine, by two-way electronic audiovideo
communication between the defendant and the courtroom in lieu of the
physical presence of the defendant in the courtroom. If the defendant
is represented by counsel, the attorney shall not be required to be
personally present with the defendant for noncritical portions of the
trial, if the audiovideo conferencing system or other technology
allows for private communication between the defendant and the
attorney prior to and during the noncritical portion of trial. Any
private communication shall be confidential and privileged pursuant
to Section 952 of the Evidence Code.
   (B) This paragraph does not expand or limit the right of a
defendant to be personally present with his or her counsel at a
particular proceeding as required by Section 15 of Article 1 of the
California Constitution.

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Last modified: February 16, 2015