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It is recommended that you discuss your case with a lawyer before entering a guilty plea. The public defender will be present at the arraignment and represent all defendants for that hearing. Most defendants appearing in custody haven't had a chance to hire private council prior to arraignment. You will be given time to hire an attorney before your next hearing if you do not qualify for the public defender.
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Shirts and shoes are necessary and respectable clothing is recommended. Hats are to be removed upon entering the courtroom. No smoking, food or drink will be allowed. Children may be present in the courtroom, but if they disturb the proceedings you may be requested to remove them. The Court does not provide childcare.
Check in with the Clerk and Court Security Officer upon your arrival at Court. After your check-in is complete, you may then enter the courtroom. Please turn off your cell phone. Find a seat and wait until your name is called. When your name is called, come forward and be seated at the table with the defense attorney.
The arraignment is generally your first appearance in court on the citation or charge. If you were summoned to court, you will appear in person at the court. If you were arrested, you will remain at the Kitsap County Jail and will see the Judge through the jail video system.
The Judge will inform you of the charge and explain it. Next it will be confirmed that you understand your constitutional rights as explained by the document you were given when you checked in with the Court Security Officer, and finally the maximum punishment and mandatory minimum punishment, if any, will be stated. Bail and conditions of release will be discussed and set by the court. For a person charged with a non-violent offense with little to no criminal history, it is not uncommon to be released on personal recognizance ("PR") and other conditions such as a no-contact order or a requirement not to drink alcohol or use drugs. However, if the offense involves behavior that endangers others, bail and other more stringent conditions may be imposed as a condition of any release to the community.
All persons accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence have the following rights:
The law requires that the police impound your car when you are arrested for DUI. There are three towing companies used for impounds in Kitsap County - you must contact these companies to locate your car and pay the necessary towing fees.
At the arraignment, ask to screen for the public defender. The Judge will request that you fill out a financial affidavit and call you up to discuss whether you qualify for appointed counsel. If the public defender is appointed to represent you, the clerk will give you a form with the address and phone number of the public defender. It is your responsibility to contact the public defender to schedule an appointment and to be available for all meetings requested by the lawyer.
At an arraignment hearing, most people charged with a criminal offense enter a not guilty plea. This allows more time to acquire an attorney, review the police reports, investigate the charge, and consider possible diversion options or sentencing recommendation of the prosecutor. Once more information is provided, a person may decide to enter a guilty plea- typically at a later pre-trial hearing.
If you plead guilty it means you admit the charge and elements to prove the charge. By pleading guilty you waive your constitutional rights and in most cases will be sentenced right then. However, you may speak on your behalf at sentencing. The Judge will then usually review the police report, if available, and sentence you.
A not guilty plea is a denial of the charge and none of your constitutional rights are waived unless you expressly wish to do so. You are presumed innocent and the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a subsequent trial.
After your arraignment, the next hearing will be a pre-trial hearing where the prosecutor will be present. You and your lawyer are required to be present. It is not uncommon for a defense attorney to continue this hearing once or more to allow sufficient time to investigate your case and negotiate with the prosecutor. This also allows the attorney to find out more information about possible diversion options that could help you keep the crime off of your record. At a pre-trial hearing, motions may be heard and a jury or bench trial may be set. Information about all evidence in the case and witnesses names is exchanged.
In most cases, you will not be taken directly to jail. Instead you will be given a period of time in which to complete your commitment. Jail alternatives such as electronic home detention and community service are commonly imposed instead of jail if you do not have criminal history.
There are several alternatives to serving time in jail. In some cases, jail time may be converted into community service. You may also be allowed to serve your time on home detention. The court also utilizes technology such as a skin-alcohol monitoring ("SCRAM") device, GPS device, and drug testing to ensure that the community is protected and electronic home detention time is served appropriately.
If you can’t pay your fine in full at the time of the hearing you will be able to set up a payment plan. Failure to pay fines may result in late fees, a possible suspension of your driver’s license and assignment of the account to a collection agency. Review the court's information about Fines and Payment Options to learn more.
The State of Washington courts has created a helpful guide regarding this issue. You may also contact an attorney to seek advice on this topic. Please see the following resources in guiding you:
Bench warrant quash hearings are held on Tuesdays. Contact the court at least the day before to be confirm court is being held on the day you plan to come. Your bench warrant quash hearing will be held on the 9 AM calendar, which typically is finished by 11 AM.