Criminal Citations



 

City Hall

100 3rd Ave SE Pacific, WA 98047
(253) 929-1140

If you receive a criminal citation from a police officer or in the mail, you have been charged with a crime and your appearance in court is mandatory.

What is a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor? In general, gross misdemeanors are offenses punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to $5000 fine (not including costs or assessments). Misdemeanors are those offenses punishable by up to ninety (90) days in jail and up to a $1000 fine (not including costs or assessments). Certain criminal convictions require mandatory jail time and/or fines, depending on the RCW charged and previous record. You will be informed of the maximum and minimum consequences for your crime at the time of your arraignment.

All persons accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence have certain rights. The accused is advised of these rights at an arraignment, which is generally the first appearance in court on the citation or charge. Also at arraignment, the judge and/or prosecutor will inform the accused of the charge and explain it. Next, it will be confirmed that the accused understands his/her constitutional rights as explained in the court session and the accused is then advised of the maximum and minimum penalties. No testimony is taken or evidence presented at arraignment. Failure to appear could result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. The accused may hire private counsel to provide legal assistance. If the accused is financially unable to hire a private attorney, the accused can be screened for a public defender.

To be screened for public defense eligibility, you must personally present a completed application, disclosing thoroughly and honestly your financial condition, to court staff as soon as possible before your next hearing, between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon Monday through Friday when court is not in session. Disabled persons may call court staff for accommodations. A recoupment fee of up to $150.00 could be imposed for public defender costs.

Public Defender Application

Warrants

If you fail to appear for any court date for a criminal offense, a bench warrant may be issued. If you have missed a court date, you can call the court to see if there is a warrant. Bail or warrant fees must be paid in cash or money order. Warrant fees are non-refundable, but bail may be returned to the person who posted it upon the release order by the Judge. If a warrant has been issued, your options are:

  1. If the case has a 'no pr' warrant, the full bail amount must be paid in order to quash the warrant and reset a court date. This can be done at the clerk's office, Monday through Friday. A new court date will be set at the counter and must be signed for by the defendant.
  2. If the case is not as described as above, a $100.00 warrant fee may be paid at the clerk's office on most cases. Sometimes the warrant fee may be up to $400.00 depending on how many warrants have been issued previously on the case. A new court date will be set at the counter and must be signed for by the defendant.
  3. Turn yourself in to jail or to the police department. After you turn yourself in, the warrant will be served and the court will review your case on the next business day. You may or may not appear that day in court. The Judge will determine if you are to remain in custody and what the bail amount will be. A new court date will be set and you will be notified by fax at the jail.
  4. Call court staff to schedule a motion to quash. The defendant must call or appear at the court clerk's office during business hours to schedule a court date. The warrant remains outstanding until the judge quashes the warrant. The judge may have the defendant arrested on the warrant, depending on the history of appearance or the nature of the charges.

Criminal Payments

Payments may be made with cash, check, money order, VISA, or MasterCard. There is a convenience fee on all credit / debit card payments.

A payment agreement may be signed after sentencing. On traffic cases, failure to comply with a payment agreement will result in DOL being notified of the nonpayment. On all criminal cases, failure to comply with a payment agreement will result in the unpaid balance being sent to a collection agency.

If payments are more than 60 days late, payments would need to be made to AllianceOne collection agency. They can be contacted at PO Box 11641, Tacoma, WA 98411 or 1.800.456.8838. They have offices in Gig Harbor, Kent, Seattle, Tukwila, and Vancouver.

Infractions

Previously, many traffic and criminal violations were considered crimes but in 1981, Washington joined a number of states in decriminalizing minor traffic and non-traffic offenses, which resulted in a major change in the way courts of limited jurisdiction deal with those offenses.

Infractions are non-criminal violations of the law and include such violations as speeding, no proof of insurance, expired tabs, and parking violations, etc. When you receive an infraction, please read the citation for instructions: they may either be on the back if you have a green citation or on the lower portion if you have a white citation. You must respond within 15 days of the date of the infraction by either requesting a hearing or by paying the penalty in full. After 15 days, a $52.00 penalty for failure to respond/pay will be added. Unpaid balances will be sent to a collection agency and may result in the suspension of your driver's license. An infraction is not a crime; a warrant could not be issued.

Infraction Hearings

Contested Hearings
By requesting a contested hearing you are telling the court you did not commit the infraction(s). At this hearing you have the right to have an attorney present, but one will not be provided for you. The hearing will take place before a judge without a jury. The City must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you did commit the infraction. After consideration of the evidence, the court will determine whether or not the infraction was committed.

If the court determines that you did commit the infraction, you may be required to pay a monetary penalty. You may also be required to pay court costs in addition to the monetary penalty.

You can appeal the court's decision that you did commit the infraction(s).

Mitigation Hearings

A mitigation hearing is an informal proceeding to explain the circumstances surrounding the infraction(s) and request a reduction in the penalty amount. You may not argue that you did not commit the infraction. At this hearing you have the right to have an attorney present, but one will not be provided for you. You can be required to pay a monetary penalty.

You cannot appeal the court's decision that you did commit the infraction(s).

Mitigation and Contested Hearings by Mail

Prior to your scheduled hearing, you may elect to seek a "Decision on Written Statement" rather than appear for the in court hearing. The form must be filled out and RECEIVED by the court no later than seven (7) days prior to the date set for the in court hearing. If you provide a self-addressed stamped envelope as requested, you will be notified of the court's decision by mail within 2 weeks of the date that you were initially scheduled to appear in court. Pursuant to IRLJ 3.5(e), there shall be no appeal from a decision on written statement.

The hearing by mail form is below.

Written Statement for Decision by Mail

Infraction Payments

Payment may be made with cash, check, VISA or MasterCard or money order. Payment by debit or credit card may have a convenience fee. If you wish to pay your penalty without a hearing, the penalty must be paid within 15 days of the date of issuance.

A payment agreement may be signed at the front counter in lieu of a hearing or after a hearing is completed.

Failure to pay within 15 days or failure to comply with a payment agreement will result in a $52.00 penalty added to the fine and the unpaid balance will be sent to a collection agency. If the infraction is traffic related, DOL will be notified of the nonpayment and your license could be suspended.

If payments are more than 60 days late, payments would need to be made to AllianceOne collection agency. They can be contacted at PO BOX 11641, Tacoma, WA  98411 or 1.800.456.8838. They have offices in Gig Harbor, Kent, Seattle, Tukwila, and Vancouver.