District Court has jurisdiction concurrent with superior court to hear and determine violations of all misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors and of all violations of city ordinances.
When is my court date?
Your arraignment date will be at the bottom of your original citation. If you have already been arraigned you will receive your next hearing date while you are in the court room, or it will be mailed to you. You can check for an upcoming date by going to this link.
Can I get a court appointed attorney?
If you would like an attorney and are not able to afford one, you may file an Application For Court Appointed Attorney. The judge will review your application and if you qualify you will be appointed an attorney.
Can I continue my hearing date?
If it is your first appearance on a DUI, Physical Control, or any Domestic Violence related charge your hearing can not be continued. If your arraignment is for any other charge you may request a one-time continuance, of one week. If you are scheduled for any other type of hearing it may not be continued.
If I am assessed a fine can I make payments?
All fines are due in full within 60 days or you can contact CPMS regarding other payment options.
What should I wear and how should I act in court?
Suitable attire is required. Shoes and shirts are necessary. Halter tops, tank tops, and shorts are not permitted. Hats are to be removed upon entering the Courtroom. No smoking, food or drink will be allowed. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off or on silent. Children may be present in the Courtroom, but if they disturb the proceedings you may be requested to remove them. The Court does not provide childcare. Upon your arrival, please check the monitors in front of the Clerk's office to find which Courtroom you are scheduled in. Once you are in the Courtroom, when your name is called come forward and stand behind one of the counsel tables. Be polite, courteous and remain standing until the Judge instructs you otherwise.
When will my bail or bond be returned?
Cash bail or a bail bond will be exonerated once there is a final disposition of the case, either a finding of guilt or innocence. If you posted a bail bond you need to contact the bonding agency when the case is complete. If you posted cash it will be refunded to the person who posted it.
I failed to appear - now what?
If you missed a court date there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. In order to clear this warrant you need to appear in the District Court office any morning - Monday trough Friday - at 8:30 A.M.. The warrant will remain active until you are seen in court on this matter.
What is Deferred Prosecution?
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. Washington law allows you to request to be placed on "deferred prosecution", instead of pleading "guilty" or "not guilty". If you successfully complete the deferred prosecution requirements, the charge will be dismissed. In order to be eligible for deferred prosecution: Your criminal conduct must be caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental problems; you must need treatment; and there must be a great probability that the criminal conduct will be repeated if you don't receive treatment.
You must get an evaluation that shows that: (1) you do suffer from one of the above problems; (2) the problem is such that if not treated there's a great probability that similar misconduct will occur in the future, (3) extensive and long term treatment is required; (4) effective treatment for your problem is available; and (5) you are amenable to treatment.
You must sincerely believe you are innocent.
You must not sincerely believe that you do not, in fact, suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental problems.
You must commit to a two-year treatment program.
You must not have been on deferred prosecution before.
You must give up: your right to testify; your right to a speedy trial; your right to call witnesses to testify; your right to present evidence in your defense; and your right to a jury trial.
You must agree that, if you are removed from deferred prosecution, your trial will consist of the judge reading the police report and your statements in the deferred prosecution petition.
If you want to request deferred prosecution, you should tell the judge when your case is called. You'll be required to come back with a written evaluation. If that qualifies you for deferred prosecution, the court will schedule a final hearing to place you on the program. You must complete at least one month of treatment before being placed.
You are responsible to make the financial arrangements for your treatment. Public funding for treatment is available in certain cases. You'll be on probation through the Cowlitz County Probation Department, and you'll be required to pay monthly probation fees. Once you complete your two-year treatment program, you'll remain on probation for another three years before the charge can be dismissed.
If you are charged with DUI or Physical Control, the Department of Licensing may notify you that it intends to suspend your driver's license because your BAC result was .08 or higher. If you petition for deferred prosecution, the court may direct the Department to put the suspension of your license on hold for up to 90 days. If the court then grants your petition, the suspension of your license will remain on hold while you're on deferred prosecution. However, if you refused the BAC test, petitioning for deferred prosecution will have no effect on any suspension of your license by the Department of Licensing.
This isn't a complete explanation of deferred prosecution. You should seek the advice of a lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer, you should ask the judge to appoint one for you.
What is the DWLS Reinstatement Program?
It's a program to help suspended drivers get licensed. Anyone who meets the following requirements is eligible for this program: First, your driver's license or privilege is suspended in the third degree.
Second, you don't want to contest the pending DWLS charge.
Third, you want help to get your driver's license.
For most people, the first step will be to fill out a "Reinstatement Plan." This will list all the things you need to do to get your license, such as: *Paying fines
*Getting alcohol treatment
*Getting clearance from another state
*Getting SR-22 insurance
*Settling an uninsured accident
*Passing the written and driving tests
*The "Reinstatement Plan" also needs to show how and when you will complete the steps to get your license.
After you prepare your reinstatement plan it must be approved by the judge. Then you and the judge will talk about how much time you'll need to do all of those things. The judge will then set a time for you to come back and show your license, or at least report on your progress.
The amount of time you are given to get your license will depend on the circumstances of your case. The judges do want to see you get your license. They expect you to work hard at it, and will give you a reasonable amount of time to do so.
If your local fines have been assigned to a collection agency this program can help. If you owe more that $500 to one of this court's collection agencies, the judge can allow you to sign a new collections agreement that's only available for people in the DWLS Reinstatement Program. This new agreement includes the following important provisions: You make monthly payments on the original amount of the fines
The collection agency fee is reduced to 20% All interest on your fines is cancelled if you make your payments
Once you sign the agreement, the Court will release the hold on your license for those fines. You'll be able to get your license right away, so long as you don't have anything else holding you up.
If you would like to work off your fines instead of making payments that is a possibility. The judge can allow you to sign a collections agreement where you pay a reduced collection agency fee of 20%, and then work off the fines themselves on community service or the work crew.
If you owe fines in other courts you have to make payment arrangements with the other courts.
If you violate the requirements of this program you will be removed from the program. The judge will review the police report and your driving record, and decide whether you're guilty of the DWLS charge. If you're found guilty, the judge will sentence you.
If you are removed from the program you do not have the right to be on it again. It's a one-time-only opportunity for people who want to obey the rules, get their license, and be responsible.
When you get your license the pending DWLS charge will be amended to a traffic infraction of No Valid Operators License 2°, with a $200 fine.
If you want to discuss your case with an attorney before deciding whether to apply for the DWLS Reinstatement Program, you can certainly do that. The court will appoint one for you if your are indigent. You must tell the court by the time of your pre-trial hearing whether you want to apply for the program.
If you wish to sign up for this program the judge will have you sign the petition and the rules of the program. Then the judge signs an order officially placing you on the program.
If you do not have a pending DWLS charge you can still participate in this program. If you have local fines that have been turned over to collections, you can ask the court to be in the program to help you pay those fines and get reinstated.