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Criminal Prosecution

The City of Lakewood employs one Assistant City Attorney and one Associate City Attorney who prosecute criminal offenders and those who commit civil infractions within the city limits of Lakewood and University Place.

Steps in a Criminal Case

  • Investigation

    The criminal prosecution process begins when the City is informed by an investigating agency that an incident or violation has occurred in the City of Lakewood or University Place. Most commonly, an incident report is made by the Lakewood Police Department or University Place Police Department.
  • Filing (or non-filing) of Charges

    Once a report is made, it is forwarded to the prosecutor’s office where an Associate City Attorney reviews the case and decides whether or not there are sufficient facts upon which to base a criminal charge. In Washington State, it is not up to the victim or other involved parties to decide whether or not criminal charges are filed. The decision is made by the City. Therefore, parties involved cannot “press” or “drop” charges. However, they can, and are encouraged to, provide input and recommendations about the case.
  • Arraignment

    Generally, the first time a criminal case is heard in court is at arraignment. At this stage, the court informs the defendant of the charges against him/her and the maximum penalties. The defendant enters a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If the defendant does not enter a plea of guilty (or enter into another agreement with the City) the case will be set for pre-trial. The defendant will be advised to retain an attorney. If he/she cannot afford one, the Public Defender will be appointed to represent him/her.
  • Pre-trial

    At pre-trial a defendant may also either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty (or enter into another agreement with the City). If the case remains unresolved at pre-trial, the case is set for jury trial, with an intervening readiness hearing.
  • Readiness

    Readiness is usually the last day to resolve criminal cases. Witnesses on certain cases are subpoenaed to appear for the readiness hearing to ensure that the parties have an opportunity to question them before the trial. Unresolved cases are confirmed for trial the following week.
  • Trial

    If a case is not resolved at readiness, it will proceed to trial. On the day of trial, witnesses and victims under subpoena must appear in court at 8:30am. Witnesses must check in with the bailiff and are to wait outside the courtroom. A victim advocate is usually present at this time. Lakewood and University Place Municipal trials usually last one day; witnesses are required to be available for the entire day unless released by the court.
  • Review Hearings

    After a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the court sets certain conditions that the defendant must follow as part of his/her sentence. Upon conviction or other monitored resolution, the defendant‘s case is set for a review hearing to allow the court to verify compliance with court ordered conditions. The court will also summon a defendant back to court for a review hearing if there is an indication that the defendant is not in compliance with the court’s orders. For example, if the defendant has a subsequent criminal charge, fails to do required treatment, or fails to pay restitution, the court may impose additional jail time or fines.
  • Subpoenas

    If you receive a subpoena you are required to appear as directed. If you do not honor a subpoena, the judge may issue a material witness warrant for your arrest. Court rules allow an arrest warrant to be issued if a witness refuses to obey a lawfully issued subpoena. If you have questions about a subpoena you received, please call (253) 589-2489.