Your Tacoma Criminal Case: The Basics

Last night your sister’s criminally inclined boyfriend “Johnny” decided to do something stupid -- again. He walked in to McLendon’s Hardware store and five-finger discounted an expensive DeWalt contractor power tool set. Then, he tried to return it. The Tacoma Police hauled him down to jail and now your sister is begging you to help bail him out, again. It’s a never-ending saga with these two. You really don’t know what to do.

There’s all sorts of crimes and criminal cases out there, but here’s some basic information to help you get acquainted with the misdemeanor and felony laws in Washington.

What Happens During a Tacoma Arrest?

This part is generally straightforward, but each case will depend on the individual facts and circumstances. Here are the agencies an arrestee will typically be dealing with:

Tacoma Police Department

Pierce County Sherriff

Washington State Patrol

The police believe they have probable cause to arrest you for either a felony or a misdemeanor. How does that happen? The officer may have personally witnessed a crime or a witness reported it. The officer might have a warrant, but they don’t always need one. You’ll be arrested and read your Miranda rights.

What Rules Do the Police Have to Follow?

The police generally have to follow a set of rules during and after your arrest. This isn’t Hollywood where rogue cops beat confessions out of innocent citizens. If the police don’t follow these rules, it could jeopardize the Pierce County district attorney's case against you. You have a certain group of criminal rights, such as the right against illegal searches and seizures and the right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

What is Miranda All About?

Let’s discuss Miranda. The police need to tell your Miranda rights anytime you are in custody and the subject of interrogation.

Tacoma Jail

If you are looking for a person who was arrested and in custody, they are likely at the Pierce County Detention and Corrections Center. Fortunately, there are online resources to help those are trying to find an inmate.

After the arrest, you or a (semi-)loved one will be booked and either released with a promise to appear at a later date or will have to post a bond.

How to Post a Bond

If you want to bail someone out of jail, there’s two ways that happens. You can post a cash bond -- that means you’ll pay the entire amount of the bail. If the defendant appears for all court hearings, the bail will be refunded at the conclusion of the case, regardless of whether the defendant was found guilty or not guilty.

You can also employ the services of a bail bonds company – that requires the payment of a percentage of the bail amount to a bonding company, which will not be refunded.

The bonding company then pays the remaining balance and is responsible for the entire bail amount should the defendant fail to appear for court. The bonding company may require collateral for the total amount being posted.

I Want a Tacoma Lawyer, But Where Can I Find One?

Since you’ll be dealing with the Tacoma courts, you might consider speaking to a lawyer. You can hire a Tacoma criminal defense lawyer or ask for assigned counsel.

Good to Know: The Pierce County Office of Assigned Counsel will not be able to provide assistance in the following types of cases:

• Cases filed in Federal Court

• Department of Licensing (DOL) Cases - Hearings regarding status of your driver’s license

• Divorce Cases

• Expungement - Destroying record of criminal conviction

• Forfeiture Cases - Cases were law enforcement has seized your property

• Landlord / Tenant Disputes

• Modification of Child Support

• Probate Cases - Administering the estate of a deceased person

• Traffic Infractions

Washington State Criminal Laws and Penalties

Criminal offenses are broken down into two categories, ranked from most serious to less serious:

Felonies (Class A, B, C) (filed in the Superior Court).

Misdemeanors (misdemeanor and gross) (filed in the District and Municipal Courts).

Felonies in Tacoma

Washington classifies felonies into categories A, B, and C. A is the most serious, with C being the least serious. Penalties for Washington State felony cases are governed by the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines. The state uses a very complex sentencing grid to determine the length of your sentence if you are convicted. Here are some general ranges:

Class A Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of either life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.

Class B Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.

Class C Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Washington Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors might be considered less serious than felonies, but take note, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom.

Washington state misdemeanors are classified into two classes, with gross misdemeanors being the most serious.

Gross Misdemeanor

• Maximum penalty: Up to 1 year in jail and a $5000 fine.

Misdemeanor

• Maximum penalty: Up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.

Hiring a Tacoma Criminal Defense Attorney

Remember that criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. Anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting a Tacoma criminal defense attorney for more information.

There’s all sorts of crimes and criminal cases out there, but here’s some basic information to help you get acquainted with the misdemeanor and felony laws in Washington.

What Happens During a Tacoma Arrest?

This part is generally straightforward, but each case will depend on the individual facts and circumstances. Here are the agencies an arrestee will typically be dealing with:

Tacoma Police Department

Pierce County Sherriff

Washington State Patrol

The police believe they have probable cause to arrest you for either a felony or a misdemeanor. How does that happen? The officer may have personally witnessed a crime or a witness reported it. The officer might have a warrant, but they don’t always need one. You’ll be arrested and read your Miranda rights.

What Rules Do the Police Have to Follow?

The police generally have to follow a set of rules during and after your arrest. This isn’t Hollywood where rogue cops beat confessions out of innocent citizens. If the police don’t follow these rules, it could jeopardize the Pierce County district attorney's case against you. You have a certain group of criminal rights, such as the right against illegal searches and seizures and the right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

What is Miranda All About?

Let’s discuss Miranda. The police need to tell your Miranda rights anytime you are in custody and the subject of interrogation.

Tacoma Jail

If you are looking for a person who was arrested and in custody, they are likely at the Pierce County Detention and Corrections Center. Fortunately, there are online resources to help those are trying to find an inmate.

After the arrest, you or a (semi-)loved one will be booked and either released with a promise to appear at a later date or will have to post a bond.

How to Post a Bond

If you want to bail someone out of jail, there’s two ways that happens. You can post a cash bond -- that means you’ll pay the entire amount of the bail. If the defendant appears for all court hearings, the bail will be refunded at the conclusion of the case, regardless of whether the defendant was found guilty or not guilty.

You can also employ the services of a bail bonds company – that requires the payment of a percentage of the bail amount to a bonding company, which will not be refunded.

The bonding company then pays the remaining balance and is responsible for the entire bail amount should the defendant fail to appear for court. The bonding company may require collateral for the total amount being posted.

I Want a Tacoma Lawyer, But Where Can I Find One?

Since you’ll be dealing with the Tacoma courts, you might consider speaking to a lawyer. You can hire a Tacoma criminal defense lawyer or ask for assigned counsel.

Good to Know: The Pierce County Office of Assigned Counsel will not be able to provide assistance in the following types of cases:

• Cases filed in Federal Court

• Department of Licensing (DOL) Cases - Hearings regarding status of your driver’s license

• Divorce Cases

• Expungement - Destroying record of criminal conviction

• Forfeiture Cases - Cases were law enforcement has seized your property

• Landlord / Tenant Disputes

• Modification of Child Support

• Probate Cases - Administering the estate of a deceased person

• Traffic Infractions

Washington State Criminal Laws and Penalties

Criminal offenses are broken down into two categories, ranked from most serious to less serious:

Felonies (Class A, B, C) (filed in the Superior Court).

Misdemeanors (misdemeanor and gross) (filed in the District and Municipal Courts).

Felonies in Tacoma

Washington classifies felonies into categories A, B, and C. A is the most serious, with C being the least serious. Penalties for Washington State felony cases are governed by the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines. The state uses a very complex sentencing grid to determine the length of your sentence if you are convicted. Here are some general ranges:

Class A Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of either life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.

Class B Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.

Class C Felony: Carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Washington Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors might be considered less serious than felonies, but take note, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom.

Washington state misdemeanors are classified into two classes, with gross misdemeanors being the most serious.

Gross Misdemeanor

• Maximum penalty: Up to 1 year in jail and a $5000 fine.

Misdemeanor

• Maximum penalty: Up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.

Hiring a Tacoma Criminal Defense Attorney

Remember that criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. Anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting a Tacoma criminal defense attorney for more information.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.