In Washington State, the Criminal Rules for Courts of a Limited Jurisdiction allow for a defendant’s arraignment to be waived. What that means is – if you hire private counsel prior to your arraignment, your attorney can send to the Court and to the Prosecuting Attorney a document that enters a plea (of not guilty) in your absence. The Court processes that document and typically just strikes your matter from the arraignment calendar.
How Do I Avoid Going to My Arraignment?
CrRLJ 4.1(g) states that “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by statute or by local rule, a lawyer may enter an appearance or a plea of not guilty of behalf of the client for any offense.”
For most offenses, this works in District and Municipal Courts. However, the “except as otherwise provided by statute or local rule” language from above carves out exceptions to this general rule in every jurisdiction.
The crimes that are carved out of this general rule are DUI and physical control, crimes that involve domestic violence, and the crimes of Harassment, violation of anti-harassment orders and stalking. In other words, if the crime you are curious about is on this short list of 6 charges, then you MAY NOT waive your arraignment. For all other charges that are not on this list, you MAY waive your arraignment.
District and Municipal Court, Not Superior Court
This rule only applies to cases in District Court and Municipal Courts, not a Superior Court. In other words, the rule applies to misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, not felonies. Typical charges where we routinely waive the arraignment are – theft, shoplifting, assault, malicious mischief, BUI, reckless driving, trespassing, hit and run, minor in possession, driving while license suspended and fish and wildlife violations.
You Must Have A Private Attorney
Since public defenders are only appointed at or after a person’s arraignment, a public defender can not waive your arraignment for you. If you have an arraignment in the near future, you must contact a private attorney and tell them that you would like to waive your arraignment.
Ryan Witt is a DUI and criminal defense attorney at Witt Law Group who handles cases in western Washington. If you have a questions about your upcoming arraignment or about waiving your arraignment, give our office a call. We are here 7 days a week to help. 360-792-1000