Criminal Cases

NEXT DAY HEARINGS
 
The law requires that persons who are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and for domestic violence must appear in court on the next court day. Judge McCulloch conducts these next-day hearings even if the next day is not a normally scheduled court day. In this way, appropriate restrictions can be placed on the defendant for the protection of the public. 

JAIL VIDEO HEARINGS

The City of Bainbridge Island has a contract with Kitsap County Jail in Port Orchard for jail services. The court has established a video link with the jail for routine court hearings for persons who are being held in custody pending their trials.  The video system allows defendants to see the judge, public defender, prosecutor, and courtroom audience members.  Those in the courtroom can see the defendant on a large screen TV.   In this way, it is no longer necessary for the police to drive long distances back and forth to Port Orchard to transport prisoners.  This has resulted in a substantial saving to the city, in terms of financial resources, as well as better utilization of the police officers. Officers are able to perform their regular functions instead of driving prisoners back and forth to court.   For hearings that require a longer period of time than allowed on the jail video , defendants are transported to the courtroom. 
  
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CRIMINAL CASES

Being accused of a criminal or serious traffic offense can be a stressful experience.  We hope that the information below will help you through the process and take some mystery out of the procedures.  We have tried to anticipate and answer frequently asked questions.  If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask a staff member. at the court.

Printable Criminal Process and Procedure Brochure

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR AND HOW SHOULD I ACT IN COURT?
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.

WHAT IS AN ARRAIGNMENT?
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. 

WHAT ARE MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS?
All persons accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence have the following rights:

1.  To have a lawyer present with you at all hearings;
2.  To have a lawyer appointed at public expense if you cannot afford to hire one to represent you.
3.  To a public and speedy trial;
4. To cross-examine any witness who testifies against you;
5.  To call witnesses to testify on your behalf, and have the Court compel their attendance;
6.  To testify or not testify yourself; if you choose not to, no one can make you testify;
7. To appeal to Superior Court if you are convicted after a not guilty plea.

MY CAR WAS IMPOUNDED WHEN I WAS ARRESTED FOR A DUI- WHERE IS IT?
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.  
Gateway Towing 206-842-4851  http://gateway-towing.com/index.html
Kitsap Towing 206-842-6232   http://www.kitsaptowing.com/index.html
Chico Towing 206-842-7898   http://chicotowing.com/
 
WHERE CAN I HAVE IGNITION INTERLOCK INSTALLED ON MY CAR?
If you are charged with DUI, the Judge may order you to install ignition interlock on your car as a condition of your release.  Department of Licensing may also require this as a condition of getting your license back.  You must use a provider that is certified in the state of Washington.  The Washington State Patrol maintains a list of certified providers:  www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/interlock.htm 
 
The following companies are certified providers in Kitsap County:
Auto Safe- Draeger Interlock (Silverdale) 1-800-977-0091
Intoxalock (Silverdale) 1-888-283-5899
Life Safer (Bremerton) 1-888-855-0630
Smart Start (Port Orchard) 1-855-922-4597 

Printable Ignition Interlock Brochure:  Ignition Interlock Providers- Kitsap County Brochure
   
SHOULD I TALK TO A LAWYER BEFORE ENTERING A PLEA?
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.  

WHAT IF I AM FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO HIRE A LAWYER?  HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER?
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.

IF I PLEAD GUILTY WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
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. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I PLEAD NOT GUILTY?
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.  

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM SENTENCED TO JAIL?
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.  

WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE FOR SERVING A JAIL SENTENCE?
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.

WHAT MUST I DO IF I CAN’T PAY MY ENTIRE FINE AT SENTENCING? 
If you can’t pay your fine in full at the time of the hearing you will be required to sign a promise to pay agreement to pay the fine within 60 days.  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. If you wish to make monthly payments, you may  sign up with Signal Credit for monthly installments.  Review the court's information about Fines and Payment Options to learn more.
 
KEEPING YOUR ADDRESS UP-TO-DATE 
It is very important that you keep your address up to date with any courts you have cases in and the Department of Licensing (DOL).  The court and the DOL use that address information to contact you.  If you don’t update your address, you may be missing important notices that could negatively impact you.  If you fail to respond to a court summons on a criminal case that is sent to an out-of-date address, a warrant could issue for your arrest.  

You must contact the court and DOL to update your address in both places.  You may use the court's online form to update your address
 
You may update your DOL address website:  www.dol.wa.gov 

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR SEALING RECORDS AND VACATING CONVICTIONS?
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:

Vacate Misdemeanor Conviction Information Packet and Motion

Guide to Sealing Court Records, Vacating Convictions