While Arrests May Be Down, Case Filings Will Tick Up

April 20, 2020 Written by
Summons for Court in Kitsap County? Summons for Court in Kitsap County? Kitsap County Criminal Defense Attorney Ryan Witt


The Kitsap Prosecuting Attorneys have slightly more time on their hands. However, hands in a prosecutor’s office never go idle. It is normal for prosecutor’s offices to have a small backlog of uncharged (or unfiled) cases. This happens in nearly all offices, especially on types of cases that are deemed to be lower priority. Lower priority cases are typically Theft, Malicious Mischief, Hit and Run, etc. They are nuisance type cases rather than cases where there is a threat to the community. This is in contrast with higher priority cases such as DUI or any type of domestic violence.

So What Is Happening With The Backlog?


When a prosecutor’s office has a lower number of “high priority” or in-custody cases to deal with, their time will turn to “charging”- making a decision of whether or not a crime has been committed, and whether or not they believe they can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Most offices will use this time, while the courts are essentially closed, to catch up on their charging duties.
Once a case is charged, the prosecutor’s office will send the casefile to the court clerk’s office. It is then put into the court’s database. The court clerk’s function is to set a court date and send out a summons to the last known address of the person who has been charged.

Why Is This Important?


We have dealt with many people in the Kitsap area over the years who had very minor altercations with the law, and then believed nothing had come of it. Six months or a year will go by and the person moves away. Such a long period of time had lapsed that they truly believe their contact with law enforcement amounted to nothing. Then, the prosecuting attorney gets around to reviewing and charging the case. A summons is sent to the last known address, the person does not receive the summons, Court is held, and an arrest warrant is issued.


How Does A Person Stay On Top Of This?

 

There are several proactive steps a person can do to ensure that they don’t get a warrant. First, the person must make sure that their address is correct with the Department of Licensing. This is the address that the Court will use to send a summons. Second, call a local defense attorney. An attorney can call the prosecutor’s office and determine if an investigative report has been submitted, and if so, they can determine where in the process the file is for charging. If the case is charged, they can alert the individual to ensure that they are aware of any future court dates.

Other Benefits Of Being “In Front Of” Your Case

 

Lots of these cases that are currently being reviewed for charges are deemed lower priority. That said, there are more favorable options for how to resolve such a case. On many occasions, we can have a negotiated resolution or even a dismissal ready to go at the Arraignment.


If You Have Received A Summons For Court, Give Us A Call!

 

These matters are important and we answer the phone for criminal questions 24 hours a day. We have heard from the Kitsap County District Court Clerks that summonses will be sent for dates starting in late May and June. If you receive a summons for Court, don’t delay or disregard. Better outcomes are possible when we are involved early on.