The ABC’s of Criminal Procedure

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by up to one year in Jail.
Common misdemeanors include: driving under the influence of alcohol/drunk driving (DUI/DWI), shoplifting, domestic violence assault in the fourth degree, driving on a suspended license, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, and/or malicious mischief etc. When faced with a misdemeanor, contact your Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys immediately.

What happens after I am arrested?

If a person is arrested for a criminal misdemeanor in Washington there are several potential scenarios. The police could hold the accused and bring him to Court for an arraignment or first appearance in District or Superior Court in the morning. The police also set bail and have the defendant post bail in order to be released, or the defendant may be processed, booked and released on his own personal recognizance.

It is usually not advisable for a person to give a statement to the police without an attorney. However, there are exceptions to every rule. It is always important to exercise your right to remain silent and contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys.

Bail and Arraignment

What is a criminal arraignment? Will I be released on bail? Should I take a plea at an arraignment?

The formal arraignment is the court hearing where a criminal defendant either pleads not guilty, or guilty. In most situations the judge will enter a not guilty plea on behalf of the defendant.

It is usually a very bad idea for a person to enter a plea of guilty without an attorney at the arraignment. However, there are exceptions to this rule especially if the person will be held. It is usually very strongly advisable that the defendant say not guilty and retain a Seattle criminal lawyer. If the accused cannot afford a private criminal attorney they should go to the Public Defender’s office.

What is personal recognizance?

At the arraignment in Municipal/District Court or Superior Court, the person will typically be released on bail after the person pleads not guilty. An accused should hire a Washington criminal attorney to represent him/ her at an arraignment. For minor misdemeanor offenses, bail is usually personal recognizance which means the person does not have to come up with any actual funds. A defendant released on personal recognizance, has to promise that they will attend court for future hearings and / or trial. The accused does not actually pay any money when released on PR. However, If the person fails to attend court in the future the accused will owe a bail amount after bail is set by a judge.

What is cash bail?

If the Rhode Island District Court judge orders cash bail then the accused must pay that amount in cash to be released. If it is cash bail than the defendant cannot post property.

What is bail with surety?

If the person is repeat criminal offender, the allegations are particularly bad, the person has a history of not attending court or for other reasons, then the court could set bail with surety. This means that the person only has to pay 10 percent of that amount or post property valued at full amount. If a person can not come up with ten percent then they can hire a bail bondsman who will post that amount for a fee. a Bail bondsman’s fee is usually reasonable. If the person attends all Court dates then they will get that money back at the end of the case.

What is the most advisable plea at an arraignment and what happens next?

At the arraignment, A person should almost always say not guilty and hire a Seattle criminal attorney. If a person cannot afford a lawyer then the person should go to the Public Defender. After the arraignment the matter will be set for a pretrial conference a couple of weeks later. In some very limited circumstances a person can work out a plea deal at the arraignment. It is usually a very bad idea for a person to enter into a plea agreement without an attorney.

Pre Trial Conference

What happens at the pretrial conference?

At the pretrial conference a person can change their plea from not guilty to guilty if they agree to the sentence offered by the prosecutor after meeting with the prosecutor and or the judge and after finding out what the prosecutor is offering for a a sentence. A defendant can negotiate with the prosecutor through their lawyer. If a plea agreement cannot be worked out at the pretrial conferences the matter will be set for trial. The matter also could be scheduled for motions prior to the trial if motions are requested.

A person should never change their plea from not guilty to guilty without a plea deal from the prosecutor.


What types of pleas are there in Washington?

In Washington, a defendant can enter one of four pleas: guilty, not guilty, or an “alford plea”.

Guilty and Not Guilty Pleas

The pleas of guilty and not guilty are obvious. If the plea is not guilty then the matter will be scheduled for a trial on the merits in which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty of the alleged offense. The person will be presumed innocent and it is the prosecutions burden to prove that the person is guilty. Usually, it is a bad idea to take a guilty plea! Guilty pleas or a finding of guilt after a trial is always a criminal conviction in Wahington.

Alford Pleas

Alford Pleas are strongly disfavored by judges in Washington and are difficult to get. Alford pleas derive from a United States Supreme Court case. In an Alford plea, a defendant will admit that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him or her if the case went to trial but will not admit to anything.

Guilty Finding after Trial

If the defendant is found guilty after trial the sentence will constitute a conviction. If a person is found guilty at trial in district court they can appeal de novo (of new) to the Superior Court and the conviction will be erased and the case will essentially start all over again in the Superior Court.

Obviously, the defendants best result is either a dismissal by the prosecution or an acquittal. Contact the Seattle Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys to get your case dismissed!

If you or a loved one is cited for committing a crime such as resisting arrest in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, 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; (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation.

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