Many clients are unfamiliar with the various Washington district and municipal court misdemeanor case proceedings. These court proceedings usually consist of arraignments, pretrial hearings, motion hearings, trial confirmation hearings, trials (jury trials and bench trials (judge only)), and sentencings.
Arraignments are usually the first stage of a Washington misdemeanor case. The judge reads the charge(s) to the Defendant, states the maximum & minimum penalties for each charge, and then requires the Defendant to enter either a Not Guilty or Guilty plea to each charge. If a Guilty plea is entered, the judge will proceed to sentencing (see below). If a Not Guilty plea is entered, the judge will then usually schedule a pretrial hearing and a trial date (see below) and impose pretrial certain restrictions on the Defendant. Sometimes $ bail is also required.
Pretrial Hearings are usually the next court proceeding. At the pretrial hearing, the case is either continued (postponed), dismissed, scheduled for a motion hearing, or settled. If settled, the Defendant will then usually enter a guilty plea to the charge (or a reduced charge) and be sentenced. Or agree to enter into a pretrial diversion program where the charge will be reduced or dismissed after 1 to 5 years of court probation.
Motion Hearings are sometimes the next court proceedings. Here the defense attorney will argue defense motions to dismiss the charge, to limit or bar certain prosecution evidence at trial, or to compel the prosecution to provide more discovery (information and evidence) about the case before trial. If the charge is dismissed, the case is over.
(TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO)
Call Lynnwood criminal defense lawyer Paul Hanson for a free first consultation on your Washington criminal case. Call 425-778-7339.