Thurston Court – Basics Of Heading To Court


  1. Understand Your Case: Familiarize yourself with the details of your case. If you have hired private defense counsel, you will already be advised as to your charge, the court (district or superior), and whether you will deal with bail, conditions of release, or other issues related to your type of hearing (Arraignment, Pretrial, Omnibus, Readiness, Resolution or Trial)
  2. Legal Representation: Even if you were not able to secure a lawyer prior to your Arraignment, make sure you get a defense attorney onboard as soon as possible. Thurston county district court cases move quickly. If you do not have the advice of an experienced defense attorney, you will fail to complete certain “tasks” in between Arraignment and Readiness (about 90 days) that could really improve your chances at a great outcome. Additionally, you may miss your very tight DOL hearing request timeline.
  3. Appearance: Check with your attorney to determine if you can appear virtually. If you have not hired a private defense attorney, you should assume that you are required to appear in person. It is risky to trust court clerk staff since mistakes have been made and it can result in a warrant. Additionally, if you hire an attorney in advance of your hearing date, you may be able to waive your arraignment. This can only be done in certain types of cases and you must have an attorney in advance.

DUI Overview

DUI Thurston County

Assault – Domestic Violence Overview

Court Etiquette

  1. Punctuality: Arrive early to allow time for security checks and to find your courtroom. Thurston is fairly easy to navigate compared to other larger courthouses. A good rule of thumb is arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled hearing time.
  2. Dress Appropriately: Wear business or business-casual attire. Avoid hats, sunglasses, and overly casual clothing.
  3. Behavior: Be respectful and polite to everyone in the courthouse, including court staff, the judge, and other parties. Judges and prosecutors pick up on disrespectful behavior and, since most of the judges, attorneys and clerks see each other every day, they will certainly make comments if there was a defendant who stood out as particularly rude and disrespectful. If you are frustrated by the process, make sure you do not take it out on anyone in the courthouse.
Thurston District Court
Olympia Municipal Court
Lacey Municipal Court

During the Hearing

  1. Turn Off Electronics: Ensure your phone and other electronic devices are turned off or silenced.
  2. Listen Carefully: Pay attention to the proceedings and follow instructions from the judge. Most judges will call roll. They will first go through their “calendar,” which means they are determining who on their list of cases is present. They will also determine if interpreters are present and who has private counsel. They are attempting to arrange their calendar for efficiency and issue warrants for those who failed to appear.
  3. Speak Clearly: When it’s your turn to speak, do so clearly. Address the judge as “Your Honor.” When the judge is calling roll, simply answer, “Present, Your Honor.” If you have hired an attorney, he or she will also chime in and say, “With Counsel,” to let the judge know someone will be handling the case and speaking for the defendant.
Thurston County
Olympia Municipal
City of Lacey Municipal court
Courthouses in Thurston County

Logistical Considerations

  1. Location and Parking: Know the location of the courthouse and where you can park. Thurston County District Court is located at 2000 Lakeridge Dr SW, Building 3, Olympia, WA 98502. Sometimes, a client will get nervous and forget to check paperwork so they go to the courthouse they are familiar with, which might be Thurston County or, in some cases, Olympia Municipal Court. Olympia Municipal Court is located at 900 Plum St SE, Olympia, WA 98501. Always double check that you are going to the correct courthouse. If you make a mistake, call your attorney right away so he or she can notify the judge that you are planning to appear but will be a few minutes late. If you can still make it during the assigned court calendar, this can avoid having a warrant issued.
  2. Security Screening: Be prepared to go through security screening. Leave prohibited items at home. If you are unsure about what items are prohibited, check the court’s website. It should be fairly obvious. Additionally, take as little as you can into the courthouse. It will make your security screening much faster. Please note, while steel toed boots (and many dress shoes) and belts are not prohibited, they are likely to trigger the metal detector and require a second or third security screening as you are required to take off the items and re-screen.

Legal Procedures

  1. Court Schedule: Check the court’s schedule and know your case number and the time of your hearing. Your attorney will tell you which courtroom you are scheduled to appear. However, it is not uncommon for the schedule to be changed to accommodate a large calendar or a change in a judge’s schedule. Be flexible and give yourself enough time to move to a different courtroom or to exit zoom and log into a different courtroom link.
  2. Rights and Legal Protocols: If you have private counsel, always discuss in advance what will be happening at your hearing. It will help with creating realistic expectations. Many unrepresented individuals try to appear at their arraignment and discuss the case (thinking they can explain away the case and avoid the charge). Despite what you see on television, this is absolutely not allowed. Since everything is on the record and your statements can be used against you, a judge does not want to risk a pro se defendant incriminating himself in open court. The judge will be very abrupt and shut you down immediately. So, if you have not hired an attorney prior to going to court, make sure you understand what you are and are not allowed to say in court — especially at your arraignment.


  1. Follow-Up Actions: After an arraignment, it is highly likely you will be required to take certain steps within a short timeline. You might be required to install an ignition interlock or check in with pretrial services. Every county and city has different protocols. For example, Kitsap County does not have a pretrial services to provide the scram unit or random UAs but Clark County’s pretrial services is quite extensive and nearly all defendants are required to check in with them following an arraignment. Thurston County and Olympia Municipal is much more like Kitsap County and you will typically have a certain period of time to complete your conditions of release and file notice with the court.
  2. Future Court Dates: Keep track of future court dates. Even if you properly appeared at your arraignment, the judge can and usually will issue a bench warrant if you fail to appear at any future court dates. This can be confusing for those who think their attorney is representing them and can take their place during appearances. While some courts allow this for certain hearings, it can be risky to be absent from a hearing that involves your criminal case. If you are active duty military, be sure to notify your attorney immediately and keep the attorney and staff up to date with any orders that will require you to be deployed while your case is pending. Finally, both Thurston District and Lacey Municipal allow you to sign up for text reminders and you can find that form on their websites.

If you are facing a criminal charge in Thurston, Kitsap, Clark Counties or any city in those areas, please reach out to our attorneys 7 days a week. There are steps we will want you to take for the best result so do not delay in getting counsel. (360) 792-1000

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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