District Courts have jurisdiction to hear violations of all misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. These violations committed within the county can result in fines of up to $5,000 and 364 days in jail.
Our staff understands that receiving a citation for a criminal matter may be a confusing and frightening experience. We hope this page will be of help in guiding you through the process and taking some of the mystery out of the procedures. We have tried to anticipate and answer the more frequently asked questions. Please remember, our staff is prohibited by law from giving legal advice.
For quick reference, the following topics are covered below:
- First Steps of a Criminal Case
- Attorneys and Self-Representation
- Appearance and Decorum
- Interpreter Services
- Helpful Websites
For additional information regarding Washington State Criminal procedure and forms, please refer to the Washington Courts website.
First Steps of a Criminal Case
I received a Criminal Citation or Complaint. What comes next?
The officer who issued the citation has given you an appearance date on the front of your citation, or you have received a date either by posting bail or by summons through the mail. This date is your Arraignment, which will take place at the Skamania County Courthouse in Stevenson, WA.
What happens at an Arraignment?
At the Arraignment, you will be informed of the charges against you and your legal rights. When you come to the courthouse, check in at the District Court counter (Room #35). Court staff will provide you will Arraignment paperwork before directing you to the Courtroom. Please arrive early enough prior to your set time to allow for this.
If you wish to request a Court Appointed Attorney, you will be required to complete a financial screening (Indigency Form) to determine if you qualify. You will also be given the option to represent yourself and discuss your case with the Prosecutor or hire your own Attorney. The Judge will set your next Court appearance.
Can I reschedule my Arraignment or other appearance?
Court appearances on Criminal matters are mandatory, and the District Court clerks are unable to independently reschedule your date. In the case of urgent conflicts, you will need to consult with your Attorney or, if you represent yourself, the Prosecutor's Office.
What if I don't come to Court?
If you fail to appear or fail to have a Defense Attorney appear on your behalf, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Can I simply pay a fine to resolve it now?
Criminal matters cannot be resolved monetarily. Procedure first requires a Court appearance. Failure to follow through with appearances and conditions of release may result in your arrest and/or more severe penalties once the case finally reaches a resolution.
Attorneys and Self-Representation
Do I need a lawyer?
Discussing your rights with an attorney will assist you in understanding the charges, your rights, and the legal process. An attorney will work with the Prosecutor and speak on your behalf. If you are financially unable to hire a lawyer, you will need to complete a financial screening (Indigency Form) for the Court to determine your eligibility for a Court Appointed Attorney.
Is there a cost for a Court Appointed Attorney?
There may be limited costs associated with a Court Appointed Attorney, which may be assessed upon resolution of your case.
If I hire an attorney, who should I hire?
We cannot guide you in this matter, as it qualifies as legal advice.
Pro Se is a Latin term meaning "for oneself," referring to the Defendant choosing to represent themselves instead of retaining a lawyer. In this capacity, it is your responsibility to discuss your case with other parties (ie. the Prosecutor) to reach a resolution.
Appearance and Decorum
What should I wear to Court?
Courts are formal settings. Dress and conduct yourself appropriately.
How should I act in Court?
- Turn off or silence cell phones and other electronic devices. Be respectful of the Court and other parties present.
- When the Judge or clerk calls your name, come forward. Be polite, courteous, and remain standing unless instructed otherwise by the Judge. Do not interrupt another person who is speaking to the Judge. Be brief and stick to the facts. Only address matters being decided by the Judge.
- Smoking, vaping, chewing gum, food, and beverages are not not allowed in the courtroom. It is a violation of law to bring a weapon onto the floor or into a courtroom.
- Children may come to Court, but if they disturb the proceedings, you will be asked to remove them. Child care is not provided. If you bring your children, and the Judge sentences you to jail with immediate effect, Child Protective Services will be called if no one is present to take your children for you.
Interpreter ServicesYou may have the right to a court-appointed interpreter in a court case. Please ask someone at the District Court Office.
If I come into Court for my warrant, will I go to jail?
The District Court Judge will make the determination whether to Quash (Cancel) the warrant or have you placed into custody.
Can I find out if I have a warrant(s)?
District Court can provide you with information on outstanding warrants within our jurisdiction. You can also contact the Skamania County Sheriff's Office.
How do I clear my warrant?
To clear a warrant(s) with the District Court, you have three options:
- Appearing on a District Court week to motion for the Judge to Quash (Cancel) the warrant. You may find out which days District Court is scheduled by calling our office.
- Paying the bail amount (Cash or Bond) for the warrant, at which point you will be sent a Notice of Hearing to continue your case.
- Checking yourself into the Skamania County Jail.
Legal Information: Washington LawHelp
Forms Online: Washington Courts - Forms
State and Local Court Rules: Washington State Court Rules