Seattle’s Community Court has gone the way of the dinosaurs. It only took about 2.5 years to meet its demise. Community Court was meant to quickly resolve low-level misdemeanor cases, connect defendants to social services and require public restitution by way of community service. The court was premised on the idea that eligible defendants would be released from jail after opting into the program and resolve their cases within 60 days of arraignment. For whatever reason that – for the most part – didn’t happen.
The City Attorney’s Office, over time, grew frustrated with the community court’s lack of accountability and last month told the court that it wasn’t filing any more cases through the community court system. The City Attorney’s Office noted that it believed defendants failed to engage with court resources, failed to resolve their cases, and rarely, if ever, performed the minimal 6 hours of community service. According to the government, the reality is that over the course of the court’s tenure of community court, there has been a marked increase in misdemeanor crimes such as theft, trespass and property destruction — all crimes that were mandated to be diverted to Community Court. The main frustration with Community Court was that the City Attorney’s Office had no discretion to “screen out” cases for traditional prosecution, regardless of the seriousness of an offense, a defendant’s criminal history or whether they also had pending felony cases.
So what now? Any outstanding cases that aren’t resolved in the next 2 plus months will be prosecuted in mainstream Municipal Court, not community court. The City Attorneys Office has now shifted to a prefiling diversion model for people considered most likely to engage with service providers. Finally, the City Attorneys Office plans to dismiss roughly 1,000 misdemeanor cases filed before Jan. 1, 2022, which is the date City Attorney Ann Davison took office. Those were cases filed by her predecessor, Pete Holmes.
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. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.