If you were arrested in Thurston County and outside of the City of Olympia or Lacey, you will be charged by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. If you were arrested for DUI or another misdemeanor level crime, you will appear in Thurston County District Court.
Where do you go?
If you are appearing for court in person, the address is 2000 Lakeridge Dr SW, Building 3, Olympia. Be aware that the courtroom for Thurston County court hearings is also shared with Lacey. You can look at the virtual court calendar to see the various courtrooms and what is being heard on a specific day of the week.
The notice of your court date should list the date, time, and location of your hearing. However, in many cases, you do not need to appear in person. You should always verify whether you can appear via zoom with your lawyer and the court clerk well in advance of your court date.
In person vs. zoom
In some counties, a person must appear for the Arraignment in person and then can appear via zoom for subsequent pre-trial hearings. Thurston District Court has been allowing Arraignments via zoom but this could change at anytime. Kitsap County will allow some Arraignments via zoom but not for DUI charges. Again, always check with your attorney and, if in doubt, make sure you appear in-person so you do not get a warrant.
What To Anticipate?
Parking can be a challenge depending on the time of day so give yourself extra time if you are appearing in person. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before you are required to be in court.
You will be going through a metal detector so consider that when you head into court. The less metal the better.
How to act and dress
You should always address the judge as Your Honor. During Arraignment and Pre-Trial hearings, you will be asked yes or no questions. For example, “Is your name spelled correctly on the criminal complaint?” or “Do you understand the charges against you?” This does not mean “Do you agree with the criminal charges?” If you understand what you are being accused of, you would answer “Yes, Your Honor.”
When dressing for court, remember to wear appropriate clothing. Your stomach should not be showing. Tank tops are not appropriate. Shorts are not appropriate. Do not wear a hat. Do not wear clothing that is ripped up, shows your underwear, or promotes violence, has offensive words, or promotes illegal activity. This is also not the time to wear your favorite beer t-shirt. If you could go to a job interview in what you are wearing, you are probably pretty safe.
If you go in person
Remember that food, drinks, and gum are not allowed in court. Set your phone to silence and do not answer it in the courtroom. Unless your case is called, do not speak while court is in session. If you wore a hat to the courthouse, make sure you remove it while court is in session. And, regardless of how emotional the situation might be, do not shout out or speak to a defendant, the prosecutor, or the judge unless you are asked to do so.
Get An Attorney BEFORE Your Court Date
For DUI cases as well as some other criminal charges, there are multiple issues happening simultaneously—even before an Arraignment. Always call for a consultation with a private DUI & Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as you have been arrested or are being investigated for a crime. Do not delay!
For example, if you wait for an Arraignment on a DUI, it is entirely possible that you missed your 7 day window to request your DOL hearing. So, regardless of how successful your attorney is on your criminal DUI case, your driver license will still be suspended if you missed the hearing request.
It is very important that you seek the best legal counsel you can from an experienced DUI Criminal Defense Attorney. You will likely save yourself a lot of money and headache by paying the money up front for private defense rather than waiting and trying to use a public defender. Remember, a public defender can only handle your criminal case and cannot help you with your Department of Licensing (DOL) hearing. Even if you request the DOL hearing, you will not have legal representation unless you hire a private defense attorney.
What will a private DUI lawyer cost in Thurston?
For a first time DUI, most experienced criminal defense attorneys with extensive trial experience will charge around $4000. If it is a second DUI or a DUI with complicating factors (accident, multiple charges, etc.), the cost will be closer to $5000. If you are being quoted more than $5000 for a first time DUI, you are overpaying for defense. Keep calling around.
Prior to paying for your case, confirm who your attorney will be and how much experience that attorney has defending DUI or other criminal charges. It is not uncommon for large firms to charge a high flat legal fee ($6000+) and send a brand new attorney or intern for hearings. Make sure you clarify in advance who will be your attorney and whether that person meets your expectations for experience.