CRIMINAL PROCESSING IN SUPERIOR COURT - FELONIES:
Superior Courts in Washington State handle Felonies, not Gross Misdemeanors or Misdemeanors. There are three classes of felonies in Washington State, Class “A”, Class “B”, and Class “C”. Class “A” is the most offensive type of felony, Class “C” is the least offensive type of felony.
PRELIMINARY APPEARANCE FOR DETERMINATION OF PROBABLE CAUSE:
The primary purpose of the “First Appearance” and/or “Preliminary Hearing” is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed a criminal offense. If the defendant is being held for investigation and has not been formally charged with a crime, the First Appearance before a judge must be conducted with forty-eight (48) hours of the subject’s arrest, inclusive of weekends and/or holidays. Interestingly, the appearance is usually conducted on a District Court Preliminary Appearance Calendar; in King County the calendar begins each weekday at 2:30 PM (1:00 PM on Saturdays) at the King County Jail.
DETERMINATION OF FILING:
If a defendant is held in custody and/or is subject to “Conditions of Release”, the court must set a time for a “Second Appearance” in District Court within seventy-two (72) hours of the subject’s arrest. In the event no formal charges are filed at the Second Appearance, the defendant must be unconditionally released. If charges are filed, the defendant will receive notice of his next court appearance and the Second Appearance will be stricken.
An “Arraignment” is the first formal step in any criminal court proceeding and is where the accused is: (1) called to court; (2) his identity established; (3) he is informed of the charges being brought against him; and (4) he is called upon to enter his plea of not guilty/ guilty to the charge before him. Although not absolutely necessary, it is wise to have a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney at this stage of the proceedings. A defendant, who is in custody, or subject to conditions of release following a Preliminary Appearance, must be arraigned in Superior Court with fourteen (14) days of the time that the indictment or information is filed.
SPEEDY TRIAL RIGHTS:
By constitutional mandate, every person accused of a crime is entitled to be brought to trial in an expeditious manner. If an accused is in custody, he must be brought to trial within sixty (60) days from the date of Arraignment, unless a Time for Trial Waiver is signed by the defendant. If an accused is out of custody, he must be brought to trial within ninety (90) days from the date of Arraignment, unless a Time for Trial Waiver is signed by the defendant.
CASE SCHEDULING HEARING:
In King County Superior Court, the Case Scheduling Hearing is set at the Arraignment, generally fourteen days after the Arraignment occurs. The Case Scheduling Hearing is set to determine the status of a case: (1) if negotiations with the prosecuting attorney have been successful, a plea may be entered and a sentencing date scheduled; (2) if more time is needed for investigation or negotiations, the case may be continued; (3) if negotiations are unsuccessful, an Omnibus Hearing and Trial will be scheduled at the Case Setting Hearing.
The purpose of an Omnibus Hearing is to: (1) review compliance with all pre-trial discovery; (2) determine the existence of any pre-trial motions, and either rule on those issues or schedule them for Pre-Trial Hearings, and (3) resolve as many other pre-trial matters as logistically possible before trial.
JURY/ BENCH TRIAL:
Jury trials consist of: (1) jury selection (commonly known as, “Voir Dire”); (2) opening statements; (3) examination of witnesses; (4) jury instructions; (5) closing arguments; and (6) verdict. Bench trials generally consist of: (1) examination of witnesses; (2) closing arguments; and (3) verdict.
SENTENCING HEARING (if necessary):
Felony sentencing is governed by specific Washington State sentencing guidelines.
If the result of the case is unfavorable for the defendant, and there were procedural errors in the processing of the case, a defendant may want to appeal the verdict. A defendant generally has thirty (30) days to appeal a guilty verdict, unless he was not properly notified of his appellate rights, in that event the time can be much longer.
The Seattle Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys, located in Western Washington, is a very skilled and experienced team dedicated to providing effective, aggressive representation for those accused of committing a crime in the greater Puget Sound. The team creates success by not only working with its clients to develop a positive relationship and encourage positive communication, but the team also works with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating an equitable and fair resolution.
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 for an initial free consultation.