DUI & Criminal Charges On Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge is a beautiful area that is somewhat of a secret gem for those who work in Seattle and commute to their rural home in Kitsap County. Bainbridge feels remote and has a fairly small population of approximately 25,000 residents. The primary “city” is known as Winslow. You can catch a ferry from Winslow to Seattle as well as other destinations across the Sound.

Law Enforcement on Bainbridge

The “Island,” as many locals call it, is patrolled by the local Bainbridge Island Police Department. Because unincorporated portions of Bainbridge are under the Kitsap County jurisdiction, Kitsap County Sheriff Deputies (KCSO) also patrol on the Island. Additionally, it is not unusual to see State Troopers patrolling the primary road on Bainbridge—Highway 305.

The 305 will take you across Agate Pass Bridge onto Bainbridge and is easily accessible from Poulsbo. That main road is quite busy and many Bainbridge residents use Poulsbo, a larger city, for many services. For this reason, law enforcement stays fairly busy patrolling the many roads throughout Bainbridge Island.

Due to the regular presence of three law enforcement agencies on Bainbridge, many people are unsure where their case might be charged. Typically, for DUI and Assault Fourth Degree cases, State Troopers and Kitsap Deputies will refer cases to the Kitsap County District Court Prosecutor. Bainbridge Island Police Officers will likely refer to the Bainbridge Prosecutor but this will depend on several factors. Generally speaking, location of where the crime occurred (or where you were stopped for a DUI) and severity of the crime will control jurisdiction regardless of which law enforcement agency responded. If you are unsure, you can contact our office to have the case monitored for criminal charging.

Municipal Court in Poulsbo holds court on Wednesday for criminal matters. If you were arrested by a Poulsbo Police Officer and charged by the Poulsbo Prosecutor, you will appear at this courthouse for your Arraignment. If you were charged with a felony that occurred within the Poulsbo city limits, your case will be heard at Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard.

If You Are Stopped Or Arrested

If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI within the jurisdiction of the Bainbridge Island Police, you will likely be processed at the Bainbridge station. However, if you refuse to perform the breathalyzer or are suspected of a marijuana DUI (or “affected by” another substance), you might be taken to another location for a blood draw.

Unless you were in a serious crash and there are injuries, most of the processing of the investigation will occur on Bainbridge Island. A State Trooper or KCSO may also process you at a different location. If you did sustain injuries, it is possible that you will be taken to an area hospital such as St. Michael Medical Center to be evaluated. If your injuries are considered serious or your blood alcohol level is very high, you may be left at the medical center and not booked into jail. In that case, you could be taken into custody at your first hearing or requested to do an administrative booking later.

If you are arrested for a crime that occurred on Bainbridge Island, you will be processed at the Kitsap County Jail. Bainbridge does not have its own jail.

Sometimes, people are investigated by law enforcement but they are not booked into jail. Instead, the officer will notify the individual to expect a Summons in the mail to appear in Court. In that case, the officer is forwarding his or her report for criminal charging to the prosecutor. The prosecutor is the only one who “charges” a crime.

Who Is Charging Me With The Crime?

If you are charged with a felony that occurred on Bainbridge Island, you will be charged by the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office and you will appear in Kitsap County Superior Court. You will not appear in court on Bainbridge for a felony.

If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you might appear in Bainbridge Island Municipal Court or Kitsap County District Court. 

If you were arrested by a State Trooper on Bainbridge, it is most likely going to be charged through Kitsap District and you will appear in a Kitsap County District Court courtroom, which is located in Port Orchard (different location than Port Orchard Municipal Courthouse). 

If you were arrested by a Bainbridge Island Police Officer for DUI or Assault in the Fourth Degree (or some other misdemeanor), you are likely being charged by the Bainbridge Island Prosecutor and will appear in the Bainbridge Island Courthouse.

If you were not arrested and booked into jail, make sure the address on your license is your correct mailing address! Your Summons will most likely be mailed to that address and, if you do not receive notice, you will miss court and get a warrant. That’s a terrible way to start a criminal case!

If you are unsure whether you are being charged and do not know which prosecutor will be reviewing the reports, contact our office to have your case monitored.

Does Bainbridge Island Have A Separate Prosecutor?

Yes and No. Your defense attorney will be negotiating with the Bainbridge Island Deputy Prosecutor but that person is actually employed by the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office. The Bainbridge Island Prosecutor was previously “in house” but, in recent years, has been outsourced to the Kitsap Prosecutor to fill the position. To our knowledge, the change was due to cost and efficiency. 

Bainbridge is a 206 Area Code But You Should Hire A 360 Defense Attorney

While Estate Planning might be pretty standard wherever you go, Criminal Defense is most definitely not! Every county and municipal court in this state has a “culture” and most have very specific local rules. When you hire someone who does not regularly practice in Kitsap County or the municipalities in the area, such as Bainbridge and Poulsbo, it is very apparent to the judge and the prosecutor.

It is hard to articulate the difference in detail between Kitsap attorneys versus “out of town” but you know one as soon as they start talking. Local attorneys do get a kick out of the “big city” lawyer drama when their case is called. It usually goes something like, “Your Honor, I’m here with my client, Mr. X, but I have an important and more pressing matter in King County. I am very busy there and they expect my presence.…blah blah blah…I won’t be able to make that next court date set by the Kitsap Court scheduler because I’m in a very important trial in Seattle with interesting intellectual issues and I can’t possibly have that trial interrupted to appear in this Court.” Seriously, this happens.

I hope you can imagine the internal eye rolling that is going on during such pompous presentations (as well as a lot of private text messages between lawyers making fun of the windbag). From past experience as a Kitsap Deputy Prosecutor, the self-important attitude typically continues into the negotiations, which is not well received. Unfortunately, criminal defense clients don’t always realize it.

You Have Choices, So Do Your Research

The bottom line is that, if an attorney is so self-important that he or she can not appear in court for your case without preening, it is probably best that this attorney keep taking cases in the “big city”—where (we assume) this kind of strutting is acceptable. 

If in doubt about how this conduct might impact your case, ask some teachers which students they remember over the years. Typically, the teacher remembers the most outstanding students as well as the most annoying or difficult students. In the case of court, wasting the time of the judge and prosecutor (as well as other very busy defense attorneys) to discuss how you can’t be bothered to appear in Kitsap when the case is scheduled, does not fall into the “outstanding” category. Just keep that in mind as you try to find the right person for the job. Prosecutors and judges aren’t that different than teachers. They remember difficult or disrespectful lawyers. 

We add this section simply to note that this happens more often on Bainbridge and Poulsbo, which might be because there are so many commuters into King County. It is understandable that residents might assume an out of town lawyer from a big firm in King County is the same or better. Perhaps that is true for real estate or some other area of law (but we doubt it).

In our experience, big city elitism or self-importance is not well received in Kitsap County. However, many out of town lawyers simply don’t seem to understand and, when the lawyer get irritated by the local rules and forms, the “big time” attorney starts sending an intern, which is beyond annoying for everyone—particularly for the client who paid two or three times as much in legal fees for the big city lawyer. 

Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer For Bainbridge or Poulsbo

  1. Ask the prospective lawyers how long they have practiced in Kitsap County.
  2. Is their office actually in Kitsap County and they actually work in Kitsap. Some Seattle or Tacoma firms set up fake offices so they show up on the map.
  3. How many trials have they done in Kitsap County and surrounding cities?
  4. Test these answers by asking them the names of the Deputy Prosecutors in Kitsap County and the local municipal courts. If they practice in Kitsap enough to be familiar with the local rules, they should definitely know everyone’s names.
  5. Finally, make them sign an agreement that only the attorney of your choosing (or the one who was advertised) will appear in court. Many of the firms that spend tens of thousands of dollars every month in advertising do not send their advertised lawyers. They send brand new lawyers and even law students! We are routinely shocked that clients will pay these firms $6000 or more for DUI defense and a law student is appearing in court. Honestly, they should be ashamed. So, do your homework! 

We are happy to answer all of these questions and more. Get to know what really happens in these smaller courts and how important it is to be familiar with the legal process of our Kitsap Courts. Sadly, we have watched shocked defendants have their case set for trial (when that was not their intent) simply because the out of town lawyer or inexperienced intern was not familiar with the Speed Trial Waiver and did not have the proper form/s filled out for court. 

Experience always matters. Local experience matters more.

Ryan and Jen Witt of Witt Law Group, Kitsap County defense and personal injury lawyers

Get help now

Whether you choose to handle your case alone or engage the Witt Law Group, being informed and prepared is essential. Early involvement of an attorney can significantly impact your chances of a fair recovery, allowing you to focus on healing while we handle negotiations with insurance adjusters to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

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