If you received a criminal ticket from an officer or a white Summons/Subpoena/Notice of Case Setting in the mail, you have been charged with a crime. If the officer left the court date blank, then the hearing notice will be mailed to the address on the face of the ticket. It is your responsibility to maintain a current address with the court at all times. The listed court date is a mandatory court appearance and the court date cannot be changed. Failure to appear will result in a bench warrant for your arrest.
As a person accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence you have certain rights. You (the defendant) are advised of these rights at an arraignment, which is usually the first appearance in court on the citation or charge. At that time, the Judge or prosecutor will inform you of the charge & maximum penalties and confirm that you understand your constitutional rights. No testimony is taken or evidence presented at arraignment (except to establish probable cause). The Public Defender will be present to assist you as standby counsel. If you are financially unable to hire a private attorney, then a public defender can be appointed to represent you by the Judge. You will then be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the offense, or if you would like to speak with an attorney before entering a plea. If you plead guilty, you are admitting that you committed the offense as charged. If you plead not guilty, you are denying that you committed the offense or may have a defense to the charge.
The next step is a pretrial conference. All parties must be present. Plea agreements concerning the case may be made at these hearings. If the case moves forward, the next hearing will either be a bench or jury trial.
If you waive your right to a jury trial, the next hearing will be bench trial when the judge will hear testimony and decide the outcome of the case. If you request a jury trial, a jury of up to six citizens from the Pierce County community determines the outcome of the case. As the defendant, you are presumed innocent, and the plaintiff, the City of Lakewood, University Place, DuPont, or Town of Steilacoom, must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your appearance at each of these hearings is mandatory. Failure to appear for any of these hearings will result in a warrant for your arrest.
If you have a bench warrant, call the Court at (253) 512-2258 to check your options.
Please note that a warrant can only be issued on a criminal matter.