Wahkiakum County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Wahkiakum County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Wahkiakum County.
What is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.
Jury by Trial Right
The US Constitution (Article 3 along with the 6th Amendment) ensures an accused defendant the right to a jury trial. This applies to crimes that have a $500 fine or a potential sentence of six months in jail (aka Serious Crimes). This right to trial by jury can also be waived by a defendant.
Wahkiakum County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Wahkiakum County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Wahkiakum County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Wahkiakum County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Wahkiakum County. The Wahkiakum County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Wahkiakum County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Wahkiakum County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Wahkiakum County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Wahkiakum County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.
Wahkiakum County Required Court Appearances
In Wahkiakum County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.
Sentencing in Wahkiakum County
In Wahkiakum County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
I need help for my Wahkiakum County criminal case
The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the Wahkiakum County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for Wahkiakum County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
Jury Deliberations in Wahkiakum County
In Wahkiakum County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.
Wahkiakum County Criminal Court Locations
Wahkiakum County Superior Court
Address: 64 Main Street, PO Box 157, Cathlamet WA 98612
Phone: 360-795-3558 Fax: 360-795-8813
Wahkiakum County Superior Court – Juvenile
Address: 300 Memorial Avenue, PO Box 93, South Bend WA 98586
Phone: 360-875-9350 Fax: 360-875-9351
Wahkiakum County District Court
Address: 64 Main Street, PO Box 144, Cathlamet WA 98612
Phone: 360-795-3461 Fax: 360-795-6506
Cathlamet Municipal Court
Address: 102 Main Street, Suite 203, PO Box 68, Cathlamet WA 98612
Phone: 360-795-3203 Fax: 360-795-8500