The court legal system can be very intimidating and even scary if you are not familiar with how the court system conducts business. When faced with a potential criminal charge against you it is important that you chose an attorney that is familiar with the court system, but also someone that you can count to defend you. Rick is extremely familiar with how the Washington State Courts conduct business. We thought we would address the typical procedures that occur while being charged with a criminal offense.
Whether you have been pulled over for DUI or got caught stealing, sometimes the criminal court process begins right away with a court date within a few days of the arrest. Sometimes the first court date can be set out many months after the date of arrest. The criminal court process can begin when 1) the arresting officer provides you with a court date and time or 2) a notice of hearing mailed to you from the court.
What is an arraignment? An arraignment is the first hearing that is held for you to understand what the charges are that you are being charged with. The arraignment is where you would enter your plea of “not guilty”. If you are charged with a misdemeanor charge most of the time a private attorney like Rick can enter your plea and waive your appearance for the arraignment. However, if you are being charged with a DUI or any Domestic Violence charge, a waiver of arraignment is not allowed and you are required to attend the arraignment hearing.
Once the plea is entered, the judge then will determine whether or not you can be released based on if you are a flight risk or a danger to the community.The judge will consider your criminal history, if you have made any efforts to show the court that you are not a danger to the community, and if you are being charged with a DUI the judge will consider your alleged breath alcohol level at the time of arrest.
If you are released or have bail set the judge has the ability impose conditions. If you are being charged with a DUI the judge might release you with affirmative conditions that may include following: electronic home monitoring (EHM), Restrictions on consumption of alcohol, an imposition of ignition interlock device, or an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet better known as a SCRAM bracelet.
If you are being charged with a domestic violence crime the judge may impose a no contact order and no possession of firearms. It is important to be prepared when appearing for your arraignment for any criminal charge. Understanding ahead of time what might happen during the hearing will help ease your nerves. Rick can help you understand to what to expect prior to the hearing.
PreTrial Hearing or Readiness Hearing
A readiness hearing is usually scheduled either several days or weeks prior to the trial date. The readiness hearing is where the prosecution and the defense inform the court of their progress and if the case is ready for trial. It is very possible that your case can be continued for another readiness hearing depending on witness availability, courtroom availability, and potential additional evidence discovery. It is very possible that your case could have a resolution at a readiness hearing if Rick has had the opportunity to negotiate with the prosecutor.
Motion Hearings or Evidentiary Hearing
During an evidentiary hearing you can expect several things that may occur regarding your case. The most important is that the judge will determine what evidence may or may not be admitted if your case ends up going to trial. Sometimes, the officers involved in the arrest will testify at this hearing. This would be an opportunity for Rick to cross examine the arresting officers. A motion hearing is also where legal motions might be made to help avoid your case going to trial.
If a resolution is not reached between the prosecutor and Rick, then your case will be set for trial. You have the option of choosing between a bench trial or a jury trial. A bench trial allows the judge to be the sole person deciding if you are guilty or not guilty of the charges. A jury trial will consist of 6 people if it is a misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor or 12 people if being charged with a felony. These people will be randomly selected from the community, and they will ultimately make the decision if you are guilty or not guilty of the charges. When working with Rick in a criminal case, Rick will be able to help you make the decision on what type of trial will be best for your case.
Sentencing will occur after a finding of guilt has been decided in your case. At sentencing, the prosecutor will make recommendations to the judge. It is very possible Rick will have negotiated with the prosecutor for resolution in regards to your case and both parties have reached an agreed sentence recommendation. All of these recommendations are just suggestions by either party, however the judge will always have the authority to impose a sentence that he or she believes is appropriate for the crime.
Give us a Call
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of receiving a DUI or have been charged with a criminal charge, please don’t hesitate to give Rick a call. He is an experienced criminal defense attorney and has been handling criminal cases since 1992.
If you’ve just been pulled over or have received a DUI and would like Rick to represent you - give us a call or send us an email, we’ll get right back to you.
If you have any questions at any time throughout the process you can always call and ask the office - we are more than happy to help.
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