Questions by Defendants:
Q: I have a complaint about my attorney. Who do I contact?
A: Contact the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) at 1-800-945-WSBA (9722) or http://www.wsba.org.
Q: Is there a warrant out for my arrest?
A: If you think that Skamania County has issued a warrant for your arrest, someone in our criminal division can tell you if there is a warrant. However, we will not be able to confirm whether any other court has issued a warrant for you. You must contact someone from the other court to obtain that information.
Q: Do I need an attorney for arraignment?
A: No, although some defendants hire attorneys before arraignment and an attorney may be able to answer questions you have that the court cannot. If you are not able to hire an attorney before arraignment, an attorney can still appear in the case at a later time. If you are not able to afford an attorney, you may request that the judge appoint an attorney to represent you during the arraignment upon verification of your income.
Q: What happens at arraignment?
A: Arraignments are hearings that start a criminal case. It depends on the court and case but these are things that generally happen at arraignment:
* The judge tells the defendant about his/her rights.
* If not already determined, the judge determines whether probable cause exists so that the case may continue.
* Either the judge or the prosecutor will read the charge/s to the defendant.
* The judge asks whether the defendant has an attorney, and appoints one to represent the defendant if requested and meets appropriate criteria.
* The judge sets conditions of release from custody — the conditions may include bail, periodic check-ins with a court-designated monitor, no contact with certain persons, not leaving Skamania County, not possessing or using alcohol/controlled substances, not possessing weapons, not committing any new offenses, and more.
* The judge will set any additional court date/s.
Q: What happens at a pre-trial or status hearing?
A: It depends on the court and case, but usually it is the court’s opportunity to find out from the attorneys whether the case is ready for trial, and whether there will be special issues.
Q: How do I take a conviction or adjudication off of my record?
A: Normally, you cannot have a conviction or adjudication removed (also called “expunged”) from your record. However, if you feel you may qualify you should contact a private attorney.
Q: What is the status of my case?
A: Defendants must contact their own attorneys regarding the status of their case. If you are not represented by an attorney you can contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s office directly for an update.
Questions by Victims:
Q: I want a protection order to keep my spouse [or boyfriend/girlfriend or other person] away from me. Will the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office do this for me?
A: No, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office does not handle this type of case. You can go to the Skamania County Court Clerk’s Office, County Courthouse, 240 NW Vancouver Ave, Stevenson WA 98648 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and ask for an application for a Protection Order or Contact the Skamania County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at (509)427-4210 for assistance.
Q: I feel that a crime has been committed. How do I press charges? Can I report a crime directly to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office?
A: Crimes must be reported to the Sheriff’s Department, a police department, or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred.
Q: I am a victim in a criminal case and I want to drop the charges. Can I do that?
A: The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by a prosecutor with the approval of a judge. The victim’s wishes alone will not dictate whether or not a case will be filed or dismissed. If you would like to discuss your case, you should speak with the prosecutor handling it.
Q: I was the victim of a crime. Can I get money for what I have lost?
A: If the Defendant is convicted of the crime, and in some other special dispositions, the court can order the Defendant to pay restitution. Restitution is money equal to the victim’s loss. These are the types of things that you may receive restitution for:
** Cost of destroyed, lost, stolen or damaged property
** Medical and counseling bills
Some types of loss, such as pain and suffering and lost wages, are usually not awarded as restitution. You should contact a private attorney if you want help obtaining reimbursement for those damages. In addition, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has a program called the Crime Victims Compensation Program. It will provide funds for victims of crime to help pay for medical and counseling costs that are a result of the crime. This program is a payer of last resort for victims not otherwise covered by insurance or medical coupons.
Q: Why am I not getting my restitution check?
A: If the court ordered the Defendant to pay restitution but you are not getting any payments, it could be because the Defendant is still incarcerated. You may have to wait a long time for restitution. Various departments are responsible for collecting money owed to victims. The Clerk of the Court where the case was filed will send the money to you as it is received. If you are not receiving your restitution and the defendant has been released from custody you should contact that Clerk’s office to make sure it has your correct mailing address. If the Defendant has community supervision or probation, you can also call the Defendant’s community custody officer or probation officer about the lack of payment.
Q: I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the Defendant’s next court date?
A: Our office can give you next court date if we have filed charges against the Defendant. To obtain this information, call our office at (509) 427-3796.
Q: What is the status of my case?
A: You should receive an informational packet from our office if you are the victim of a crime and charges have been filed against the defendant. If you have not, or if you would like additional information, please contact our office at (509) 427-3796 and ask to speak with a Victim coordintaor.
Q: Is the Prosecutor my attorney?
A: No. The Prosecuting Attorney represents the interest of the State. The Prosecutor will listen to your concerns and take into consideration your wishes. However, the Prosecutor must weigh all the aspects of the case and make a final determination. You do have the right to obtain your own attorney if you wish.
Questions by Witnesses:
Q: Why am I a witness? I didn’t see the crime occur.
A: Witnesses are not only “eye witnesses.” You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something that contradicts another witness’s testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the Prosecutor handling it; there is probably a good reason.
Q: Where do I park and report as a witness in a criminal case?
A: The County Courthouse parking lot is to the north off Vancouver Avenue. There is also public parking on Russell, Vancouver Avenue and First Street (main street through Stevenson). Once you enter the building go to the third floor and check in with the Clerks office to let them know you are there.
Q: As a witness, do I have to talk in front of the Defendant in court?
A: The Defendant has a constitutional right to be present in court and to hear what all the witnesses say.
Q: Who will be with me in court?
A: You may bring friends/relatives with you to court, they may be allowed to sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also witnesses. Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn. In some cases, a Victim/Witness Advocate from our office may also be present with you, if you request. Talk with the Prosecutor if you wish to have someone accompany you.
Q: How long will I be at court as a witness?
A: Your time at court varies greatly from case to case. Some witnesses will be at the courthouse for more than a day. You may bring a book or magazine to read while you wait.
Q: What do I do if I can’t attend court as a witness on the date stated in the subpoena?
A: If you have received a subpoena, you have a duty to appear as directed. However, if you have a legitimate conflict then contact the Prosecutor handling the case to discuss it as soon as possible.
Q: Does the County reimburse me for wages lost when I am a witness?
A: You will receive a witness fee and mileage for appearing as a witness if there is a trial. The amount of the witness fee/mileage is set by law, and there is no provision to compensate for loss of wages.
Questions by the Public:
Q: I have questions about a small claims case. Who can help me?
A: Please contact the Skamania County District Court Clerk’s Office at 509-427-3780.
Q: I need child support. Who can help me?
A: Our Support Enforcement Division can provide you with additional information on obtaining an order of child support. You can call 509-427-3794.
Q: I want a divorce. [Or, I want to sue someone. Or, I want to adopt a child.] Can the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office help me?
A: Our office can not provide legal advice or take legal action in such matters. You should consult with a private attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you can call CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education, Advice & Referral) at 1-888-201-1014 for a referral to a local attorney.
Q: Does the Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office provide copies of police reports?
A: Police reports are not released to persons other than the Defendant’s attorney while a case is pending. After a case is finished, any member of the public may obtain a copy of a report by filing a Public Disclosure request with the involved law enforcement agency.
Q: Can I talk to Mr. Kick? I think he’s the person who is working on my case and/or I received a letter from him.
A: Mr. Kick is the elected Prosecuting Attorney of Skamania County, his name appears on many of our official documents. Although he does handle some matters personally and all civil matters, usually one of the Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys in our office will be handling your criminal case.
Q: Where do I report for Jury Duty?
A: People summoned for jury duty in Skamania County should report as directed to the Skamania County Clerk’s Office, located on the third floor of the Courthouse.
Q: Can you give me legal advice? My tax dollars pay the attorneys’ salaries; therefore, they are my public servants and should give me legal advice.
A: Tax dollars pay the salaries of the attorneys in the Skamania County Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor was elected to provide legal counsel to Skamania County’s elected and appointed officials so they can perform the County’s business legally and efficiently. State law prohibits our office from giving legal advice to others. In addition, the tax base of Skamania County could not possibly provide free legal services for all residents of Skamania County, nor would the legal community tolerate such unfair competition. If you need legal advice, you should contact a private attorney.
We cannot make attorney referrals or recommendations.
Q: What if I have a question which is not answered here?
A: Call or visit our office. However, please keep in mind the Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is not a free legal clinic or a clearinghouse of legal information. We cannot give legal advice on private legal issues.