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- The Criminal Justice Process
The Criminal Justice Process
If you have any questions regarding the criminal justice process or your case in particular, do not hesitate to contact the Victim/Witness Unit. We will be happy to assist you!
Reporting the Crime / Investigation
When a crime is reported to law enforcement, an officer is sent to the crime scene to find out what happened. They will investigate the crime.
Once a charging request is sent to our office by law enforcement for review, the report is assigned to one of the Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys.
Warrant or Summons
If the decision is made to file charges, the defendant will be notified of the charges by either a summons that is sent via the mail or a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
If a suspect is arrested and held in jail, they are entitled to a hearing before a judge within 72 hours of arrest called a First Appearance.
Approximately 2 weeks after the First Appearance, the defendant and his/her attorney will be required to appear in court for the Arraignment.
Meet & Greet
On some crimes, such as violent crimes, you may be contacted by an advocate to meet with the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney assigned to your case.
The defense attorney may wish to interview you regarding your involvement in a case. (RCW 7.69.030)
The pretrial conference is generally held approximately 2 weeks prior to trial. The attorneys report to the Judge on the progress of their case, if the case is ready for trial or if the case has reached a settlement.
Change of Plea
Many times the parties will reach a resolution in the case prior to trial, this is called a plea bargain.
Trials will be heard either before a judge or jury.
After the evidence is presented at trial, the judge or jury deliberates and reaches a verdict.
If the defendant changes his/her plea or is found guilty after trial, the case will proceed to sentencing.
If the defendant pleads guilty he/she waives his/her right to appeal. If the case proceeds to trial and the defendant is convicted, he/she has a right to appeal any conviction.
If you are listed as the victim and have had a financial loss because of the crime, you have a right to request restitution.