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Poulsbo Municipal Court > Criminal Case FAQ

How do I know if my court case is a criminal case or an infraction?
If the ticket you were issued is yellow, says citation, or the prosecutor filed a complaint your case is generally a criminal offense. Criminal cases filed in Poulsbo Municipal Court will be misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.

If the ticket you were issued is green, a parking ticket, or says infraction your case is an infraction. These offenses are civil cases.

What is a misdemeanor and a gross misdemeanor?
In general, gross misdemeanors are offenses punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and a fine of $5,000. Misdemeanors are those offenses punishable by up to ninety (90) days in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Is showing up for Court mandatory?
It is mandatory that you appear for all hearings set in your criminal case. Should you fail to appear for a scheduled hearing, the following things may occur:

  • The Judge may issue a warrant for your arrest.
  • When you are arrested you may be booked into jail.
  • You may be required to post bail and/or appear before a Judge before you are released from jail.
  • The Judge may decide to increase your bail and/or keep you in jail until your case goes to trial or is otherwise resolved.
  • If you post bail and fail to appear at a future hearing, the Judge can order that your bail money be kept by the Court and it will not be returned to you at the conclusion of your case.
If a warrant is issued what are my options?
1. Posting bail
This is a cash bail or bond. Your warrant will be recalled after cash bail or bond is received, and your missed hearing will be rescheduled. If the bonding company will be delivering or mailing the bond to the Court, please make sure you contact the Poulsbo Court at 360-779-9846 to verify your address is current. Once the bail is posted, a hearing date will be mailed to you.

2. Turn yourself into any police agency in Kitsap County or the Kitsap County Jail.
You can go to any police agency in the county and turn yourself in during their regular working hours. You can turn yourself into the Kitsap County Jail, 614 Division St., Port Orchard, WA anytime. The police agency or Kitsap County Jail will take you into custody. Your hearing date is generally scheduled for the next judicial day.

3. Don’t post bail and appear at Poulsbo Municipal Court before 9am on any Wednesday, excluding holidays. You will be set on the bench warrant calendar that day.  Your warrant will remain outstanding until you appear in court. The Court can not clear another Court’s warrant.

Courtroom attire and behavior
  • Be polite and courteous to the Judge, to those around you, and to court personnel.
  • Remove hats upon entering the courtroom, unless hat is religious attire or for medical purposes.
  • Suitable attire is required. Shoes and shirts are necessary. Halter tops, tank tops, and shorts are not permitted.
  • Please turn off pagers and cell phones.
  • No smoking, food or drink will be allowed.
  • Weapons are prohibited in the courtroom and court office areas.
  • Children may be present in the courtroom, but if they disturb the proceedings you may be requested to remove them. The court does not provide child care.
  • Upon your arrival, check in with the Court Security Officer outside of the courtroom. You may have a seat in the courtroom until the session convenes. When your case is called, please come forward and have a seat at the defense table until you are otherwise instructed by the Judge.
What is an Arraignment?
The arraignment is generally your first appearance in court on the citation or charge. The Judge will inform you of, and explain the charge. The Judge will confirm that you understand your constitutional rights as explained on the Advice of Rights sheet that was provided to you upon check in with the Court Security Officer. Finally, the maximum punishment and mandatory minimum punishment, if any, will be stated and at that time you will be asked to enter a plea to the charge (Guilty or Not Guilty.) No testimony is taken and no evidence is presented at the arraignment.
What are my Constitutional Rights?
All persons accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence have the following rights:
1. To have a lawyer present with you at all hearings;
2. To have a lawyer appointed at public expense if you cannot afford to hire one to represent you;
3. To represent yourself without a lawyer;
4. To a public and speedy trial;
5. To cross examine any witness who testifies against you;
6. To call witnesses to testify on your behalf, and have the Court compel their attendance;
7. To testify or not testify yourself, if you choose not to, no one can make you testify;
8. To appeal to Superior Court if you are convicted after a not guilty plea.
After informing you of your rights you will be asked by the Judge to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charge.
Should I talk to a lawyer before entering a plea?
In many cases this is a good idea. The Judge, at your request, will continue the arraignment so you may consult with an attorney. If you retain a lawyer the lawyer will need to file a “Notice of Appearance” on your case. If at any hearing you fail to appear the Judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest at which time your bail or bond will be forfeited.
I am not a US citizen. How might a conviction affect my status?
If you were born outside of the United States, a criminal conviction may cause deportation, impact your immigration or naturalization status or revoke your ability to reenter the United States should you ever leave. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you have the right to contact the consular representative of your own country located here in the United States as provided in the Vienna convention of 1963.
If I am financially unable to hire a lawyer how do I qualify for a public defender?
At the arraignment indicate to the Judge that you are financially unable to hire a lawyer. You will be given a Public Defender Request/Affidavit to fill out. If you qualify for a Public Defender the Judge will appoint one for you. The Judge will usually assess an amount for you to pay for your Public Defender depending on your financial circumstances.
Do I need to contact the court if my address changes?
As long as you have an active case with the court, you are required to notify us of ANY change of mailing address.
If I plead guilty what will happen?
If you plead guilty it means you admit the charge and the elements to prove the charge. By pleading guilty you waive your constitutional rights and in most cases you will be sentenced right then. However, you may speak on your behalf at sentencing. The Judge will then review the police report and sentence you. In most cases the Judge will place you on court supervised probation. A court compliance clerk will monitor your case conditions. You will be summonsed to appear before the Judge if you become out of compliance with your case conditions and the Prosecutor may file a Motion to Revoke.
What happens if I plead not guilty?
A not guilty plea denies the charge and none of your constitutional rights are waived unless you expressly wish to do so. You are presumed innocent and the Prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a subsequent trial. The next hearing will be a pre-trial conference where the Prosecutor will be present. You and your lawyer, if you have one, are required to be present. At this conference all motions are heard and a trial date is set. Information about all the evidence in the case and witness names are exchanged. Your attorney, or you if you are representing yourself, will need to contact the court by noon two (2) days prior to the trial date to notify the court if you wish to have a jury or bench trial.
What is the difference between a bench and a jury trial?
A bench trial is when your case is heard by the Judge only. A jury trial is where six (6) jurors are selected to hear the case and they alone decide the verdict. The Judge has the authority to accept the jury’s verdict and proceed to sentencing or may overturn their decision on a guilty finding.
What alternatives are there for serving a jail sentence?
If you are sentenced to jail you will need to stop by the clerk’s window on your way out of court to set up a date and time to report to the jail. If the Judge has approved the work release program, the jail will determine if you qualify. You will serve your time at either the Kitsap County Jail or the Forks City Jail depending on the length of your jail sentence. There is no charge for your jail commitment at these two facilities unless a fee is imposed by the Judge. If you wish to serve your time in another facility, you will need to coordinate with the Poulsbo Municipal Court clerk and you are responsible for paying the jail costs. Keep in mind that there are occasions that the mandatory sentencing guidelines do not permit the Judge to impose alternative jail arrangements.

If the Judge granted alternatives to jail, such as community service or electric home monitoring, you will need to stop by the court office for the paperwork. If you were granted community service or electric home monitoring as an alternative to jail and do not complete it within the timeframe you were given, you will serve the time in jail.

What if i can't pay all of my fine today?
If you can’t pay all of your fine at sentencing, the court clerk will set up a time payment agreement. This is a contract with the court for installment payments and must be strictly adhered to. Read the contract carefully, as failure to pay can result in late fees, a hold of your driver’s license renewal, your driver’s license may be suspended, a bench warrant issued, or referral to a collection agency.
What is a suspended sentence?
Often the Judge will suspend imposition of a portion of a jail sentence or fine on the condition of complying with various conditions within a time limit. If the conditions are satisfied, the suspended jail sentence is never served or suspended fine imposed. If the conditions are violated then you will be required to return to the court for a hearing and possible serving of the jail sentence and payment of the suspended fine. The Court will monitor compliance or assist with required programs
Travel and Relocation Restrictions Effective July 1, 2005
If you are found guilty and your sentence includes at least one year of court supervision; and

  • A second or subsequent misdemeanor DUI (including Physical Control, 1st Degree Negligent Driving, Driver Under 21 Consuming Alcohol)
  • Direct or threatened physical or psychological harm of a victim
  • Use or possession of a firearm
  • A sexual offense that requires registration

* Deferred Prosecutions and Stipulations also apply *

You cannot relocate to another state without applying for approval under the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS/ICOTS).

For additional information: Kitsap County District Court ICAOS/ICOTS Information RCW 9.94A.745

Warning: while short-term out-of-state travel is currently permitted without prior approval, this may be subject to change.