When facing any criminal charge, it is critical to know what options you have for resolution. For example, if charged with Assault 4 with a domestic violence special allegation you have fewer alternative options to resolve the case than a Minor in Possession. In some cases, not only are there special alternative ways to resolve the criminal charge for a dismissal or reduction, there are also entirely different therapeutic courts that may hear the matter.
Olympia Community Court
If you are criminally charged in Olympia, there are crimes that may be eligible to participate in community court. Some people see this as “win” because there is a possibility for the criminal charge to be dismissed. However, community court has a very strict process and requirements for the participants. Therefore, unless you are willing to commit to the two years of requirements, this therapeutic court is a bad method of resolving a case.
What Is The Potential Downside?
When you apply for community court, you plead guilty to the criminal charges but the sentencing is deferred. This means, you must successfully meet certain conditions for two years. If you do not plan to follow through on your commitment, realize that you have already plead guilty to your charges when you might have had a better option for alternative dismissal.
How Do You Know Whether Community Court Is An Option?
If you hire an experienced local criminal defense attorney, she should be able to advise whether your particular criminal charge is one that eligible for participation. If your criminal case has any domestic violence special allegation attached to the criminal charge, community court is not an option. Domestic violence is an automatic disqualification.
What Can A Private Attorney Do For Me If I Want This Option?
There are many ways in which a private attorney handles criminal cases that allow for help throughout the process. First, the defense attorney might notice that the criminal charge should be dismissed due to evidentiary or procedural failures. Second, if you hire the attorney prior to the Arraignment, bail may be reduced or waived completely and you may have less impactful conditions of release. Third, the lawyer will evaluate the discovery provided by the prosecution to determine if a less “intense” resolution makes more sense, such that community court is not your best course of action.
What If I Have Multiple Criminal Charges And One Makes Me Ineligible?
Again, this is where a private defense attorney is invaluable. With a smaller caseload and commitment to personalized attention, a private criminal defense attorney has the time and experience to know when to try unique strategies that are in the client’s best interest.
These strategies often require many phone calls and discussions with prosecutors. Some attorneys focus too much on “aggressive” tactics such that the prosecutor will end up drawing a hard line — refusing to budge on charging reductions. As former prosecutors, we are aware that the most successful defense attorneys have multiple talents and know the value of strong negotiation skills. We have been successful for 20+ years in knowing when to use our various strengths so we get great outcomes.
In the past, we have been able to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce, change, or dismiss a charge when one of the criminal charges makes it impossible for real justice to happen and for the client to get the services to avoid re-offending. Prosecutors are not inclined to drop a particular charge at the request of a defendant but, when the right arguments are made, it can be done.
Therapeutic Courts In Thurston & Kitsap Counties
Olympia Municipal Court was an early adopter of a therapeutic court. While it focuses on helping those who commit only certain crimes, it is has been successful in reducing recidivism in their area (according to their stats, 19% graduating from the program re-offended while approximately 50% in the regular court system re-offend).
Below are some of the crimes that can be eligible for community court, if you are charged by the Olympia City Prosecutor (not Thurston County). This list may change so you should discuss your criminal charges with a local defense attorney.
Urinating in Public
Failure to Respond to Notice of Infraction
Minor in Possession
Minor Exhibiting Effects
Supply Liquor to Minor
Driving While License Suspended Third Degree
Possession of Stolen Property
Unlawful Issuance of Bank Checks
Vehicle Prowling Second Degree
Violation of Exclusion Order
Possession of Marijuana
Use Drug Paraphernalia
Hindering Law Enforcement
False Statement to a Public Servant
Possession of Dangerous Weapon
Carry Concealed Weapon
DUI, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Veterans Court, Behavioral Health Court & Thrive Court
In addition to Olympia’s Community Court, there is DUI Court in Thurston, which is handled in Superior Court. There is also Mental Health Court and Veterans Court.
In Kitsap County, there is Drug Court in Superior Court. Behavioral Health Court, Veterans Court, and Thrive Court are in Kitsap District Court.
Bremerton Municipal Court was supposed to have Behavioral Health Court but the administrator quit so that is on hold.
Finally, some municipal courts will “kick” their case to another court if it wants to absorb the charge in their therapeutic court. For example, a Poulsbo Municipal case that is appropriate for Behavioral Health Court can be refiled in Kitsap District.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge in Thurston or Kitsap Counties or cities in those areas, reach out to our office for guidance on your best course of action. We are here 7 days a week for complimentary consultations. Call the office (360) 792-1000. If it is the weekend or evening, your call will be routed to an attorney.