After an arrest in Washington state, what happens to you soon thereafter may depend on the seriousness of the crime. The State recognizes three general levels of crime and classifies them as: 1) felonies, 2) misdemeanors, and 3) gross misdemeanors. Felonies are the most serious crimes, and a statute must specifically designate the crime as a felony. Misdemeanors are relatively minor crimes, punishable by a maximum of 90 days in County Jail and/or a fine of upto $1,000. Gross misdemeanors are everything in between, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or $5,000 in fines.
The category of crime can determine which court hears your case. For example, King County District Court is reserved for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases at all stages. Felonies may begin in District court, but are later handled in Superior Court after the preliminary hearings.
A person’s first encounter with the criminal justice system usually comes in the form of an arrest. Authorities typically book arrestees in King County Correctional Facility. Some people suspected of crimes are not arrested and booked. They are instead given a citation and are told to appear in court for an arraignment.
Within 48 hours of an arrest, a prosecuting attorney or a peace officer must show that there is enough evidence of the suspect’s wrongdoing to continue holding the suspect. If the officer or prosecutor fail, the suspect goes free. The preliminary hearing is also when the court sets bail amounts. District Court in Seattle has a lot of discretion in setting bail, and amounts change based on the circumstances of each case.
You can bail someone out by posting bail at the reception window. The county accepts cash, cashier’s check, or money order, but the latter two methods may delay an inmate’s release. See the Jail’s link for approved bonding companies .
When an inmate remains in jail following a preliminary hearing, the court must have him/her appear within two weeks for an arraignment. If you’re accused of a crime, the arraignment is where you are formally notified of the charges, and you are required to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. The King County Department of Public Defense (“DPD”) will provide an attorney for your arraignment, but if you wish to have someone continue to work on your case, you must apply for DPD services. If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer