Charged in Washington State with a Criminal Offense?

Washington State Criminal Citation Summons
We can provide service for persons accused of Crimes, under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), and Bellingham Municipal Code matters.  The very first jury trials I took on were in Washington State, over 15 years ago.  These are serious offences, and can lead to a permanent Criminal Record, including hefty fines and jail incarceration.

As Bellingham criminal defense lawyers we take cases in: Whatcom County Superior Court, Whatcom County District Court and Whatcom County Municipal Court.

Many persons charged may be non-residents, including Canadian Citizens, or Canadian Permanent Residents, who are now facing Criminal Charges in the USA. It is a very different system than the Canadian Court system (with some similarities). You should not seek legal advice from someone that is not licensed in Washington State, as they will unlikely know the relevant statutory provisions, law, and criminal procedure.

Contact us immediately if you have been charged, as missing a court date may result in a bench warrant for your arrest, and possibly bail jumping offences, and extradition. Our email is: WABCLawyers@aol.com or tel: 604.719.1360, or provide information on our Case Inquiry Form.

WHATCOM COUNTY DISTRICT COURT:

Contact Info:

The Court is located at 311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Bellingham, WA 9822. Telephone: (360) 676-6770; Fax: (360) 676-7685.

Types of Cases We Can Assist You With:

The Whatcom County District Court consists of two Judges and one Commissioner. The Court hears criminal, civil, infraction and miscellaneous cases.
Criminal misdemeanor cases carry a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Criminal gross misdemeanor cases carry a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine. This can affect your immigration status or ability to travel to the USA, if you are a Canadian Citizen, or Canadian Permanent Resident, student, or otherwise. Some examples of criminal cases heard by the court are:

• DUI (Drinking Under the Influence)
• Assault (Including Domestic Violence)
• Driving While License Suspended
• Theft (including shoplifting, stealing from Costco, Walmart, Macy’s etc.)
• Miscellaneous Property Crimes

Felony cases are crimes that carry a sentence of more than one year in prison. Felonies are classed in Washington State in three classes: “A” “B” & “C”. State Felony charges are set in Superior Court, unless it is a federal offense, in which case it will be set in U.S. District Court, in Seattle.

BELLINGHAM MUNICIPAL COURT:

Contact Info:

The Court is located at 2014 C Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. Tel: (360) 778-8150; Fax: (360) 778-8151.

Types of Cases We Can Assist You With:

The most common criminal cases heard in the Bellingham Municipal Court include assault, malicious mischief, theft, driving under the influence of intoxicants (“D.U.I.”), trespassing, violation of protective orders, driving with a suspended license, disorderly conduct, and minor in possession or consumption of alcohol. Many of the Court’s cases involve domestic violence. Also, we can assist in non-criminal matters, such as civil infractions, primarily involving traffic and parking violations.

Jurisdiction of this Court:

The Bellingham Municipal Court has jurisdiction over criminal violations of the Bellingham Municipal Code. The Court does not exercise jurisdiction over felony cases and violations of state laws that have not been adopted by the City of Bellingham. Felony jurisdiction resides primarily in the Whatcom County Superior Court. There are two categories of criminal charges in Bellingham Municipal Court: Gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors.
Gross Misdemeanors: The Bellingham Municipal Court has jurisdiction over gross misdemeanors committed in the City of Bellingham in violation of the Bellingham Municipal Code. These criminal offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to five thousand dollars. Gross misdemeanors include crimes of domestic violence such as assault and malicious mischief, serious driving offenses including driving under the influence and reckless driving, minor in possession or consumption of alcohol, and a variety of violent and property crimes that do not rise to the level of felony offenses.

Misdemeanors:

The Bellingham Municipal Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanors committed in the City of Bellingham in violation of the Bellingham Municipal Code. These criminal offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence of ninety days in jail and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars. Misdemeanor offenses include shoplifting, disorderly conduct, driving violations such as driving with a suspended license in the third degree, and other crimes.

Appearance in Court

Promise to Appear:

In the majority of cases, the defendant receives a citation and signs a promise to appear at the date and time indicated on the citation. The appearance is mandatory, unless excused by the Court. However, an attorney may appear on behalf of a defendant at arraignment, and may waive arraignment, except in cases of domestic violence or driving under the influence. Failure to appear for arraignment or a subsequent court date typically results in the issuance of a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

Summons:

A summons issued by the Court requires the defendant to appear at the time and place specified in the summons. The appearance is mandatory, unless excused by the Court. However, an attorney may appear on behalf of a defendant at arraignment, and may waive arraignment, except in cases of domestic violence, assault in the fourth degree, harassment, indecent exposure, driving while under the influence or physical control. Failure to appear for arraignment or subsequent court date typically results in the issuance of a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

Warrant:

The Court may issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. Arrested defendants are booked into the Whatcom County Jail. Jail cases are heard at 8:30 a.m. weekdays in the jail courtroom. Bail may be posted in the amount specified on the warrant at the Court during business hours and at the Whatcom County Jail after hours.

Booked Into Jail:

Domestic violence offenses and some other aggravated cases result in the defendant being directly booked into the Whatcom County Jail. Arraignment usually occurs the next day, and the judge will decide upon bail or release at that time if the defendant pleads not guilty.

The Bellingham Municipal Court has jurisdiction over violations of the Bellingham Municipal Code, including both criminal matters and civil infractions, committed in the City of Bellingham. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction over impoundment decisions of the City’s Hearings Examiner. The Whatcom County Superior Court has jurisdiction over felonies committed within the City of Bellingham.

More Detailed Offenses Include:

1) Offences Against Persons:

9A.36.011 Assault in the first degree.
9A.36.021 Assault in the second degree.
9A.36.031 Assault in the third degree.
9A.36.041 Assault in the fourth degree.
9A.36.120 Assault of a child in the first degree.
9A.36.130 Assault of a child in the second degree.
9A.36.140 Assault of a child in the third degree.
9A.36.045 Drive-by shooting.
9A.36.050 Reckless endangerment.
9A.36.060 Promoting a suicide attempt.
9A.36.070 Coercion.
9A.36.078 Malicious harassment — Finding.
9A.36.080 Malicious harassment — Definition and criminal penalty.
9A.36.083 Malicious harassment — Civil action.
9A.36.090 Threats against governor or family.
9A.36.100  Custodial assault.
9A.36.150  Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.
9A.36.160  Failing to summon assistance.

 

2) Driving Offenses:

46.61.502 Driving under the influence
46.61.503 Driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol — Penalties.
46.61.504 Physical control of vehicle under the influence.
46.61.5054 Alcohol violators — Additional fee — Distribution.
46.61.5055 Alcohol violators — Penalty schedule.
46.61.5056 Alcohol violators — Information school — Evaluation and treatment.
46.61.50571 Alcohol violators — Mandatory appearances.
46.61.5058 Alcohol violators — Vehicle seizure and forfeiture.
46.61.506 Persons under influence of intoxicating liquor or drug — Evidence — Tests — Information concerning tests.
46.61.517 Refusal of test — Admissibility as evidence.
46.61.519 Alcoholic beverages — Drinking or open container in vehicle on highway — Exceptions.
46.61.5195 Disguising alcoholic beverage container.
46.61.520 Vehicular homicide — Penalty.
46.61.522 Vehicular assault — Penalty.
46.61.524 Vehicular homicide, assault — Evaluation, treatment of drug or alcohol problem.
46.61.5249 Negligent driving — First degree.
46.61.525 Negligent driving — Second degree.
46.61.500 Reckless Driving
46.20.342 Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)

 

3) Shoplifting or Theft Charges:

RCW 9A.56
Washington theft is defined as “wrongfully obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof with the intent to deprive of such property or services.”

There are various theft charges, and degrees found in the RCW for theft, including shoplifting. There can be civil penalties as well required to be paid by the offender to the business that suffered. These are serious offences, and can have consequences beyond jail, such as immigration issues, travel to Canada or to the USA for Canadians, permanent residents, etc.

Theft 1st Degree (9A.56.030): The theft of property or services with a value over $5,000 or the theft of property of any value when taken from the person of another. Theft in the 1st Degree is a Class B Felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

Theft 2nd Degree (9A.56.040): The theft of property or services with a value over $750 but less than $5,000. Theft in the 2nd Degree is a Class C Felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Theft 3rd Degree or Simple Theft (9A.56.050 or similar city ordinance): The theft of property or services with a value of less than $750. Theft in the 3rd Degree or theft simpliciter is a common charge for people charged with stealing or shoplifting at a store. Theft 3rd Degree is a Gross Misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Local Rules of Court: can be found here:

http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/?fa=court_rules.rulesPDF&groupName=municipal&setName=munbel&pdf=1