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What Is Pre-Trial Detention?

Experienced Tacoma Attorneys Representing People Arrested on Criminal Charges

It is common knowledge that criminal defendants are considered innocent until they are proven guilty. Even though defendants are presumed innocent, however, this does not mean that they necessarily must retain all of their liberties. Instead, in certain Washington criminal cases, a defendant may be detained prior to their trial. If you have been arrested for a crime, you should talk to an experienced Tacoma bail attorney who can try to get you out of pre-trial detention. The assertive criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, will work diligently to prevent the State from detaining you prior to your trial. We represent clients in criminal matters in Tacoma and other areas of Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

Washington Laws Regarding Pre-Trial Detention

Under Washington law, the State is expressly limited in its right to detain people accused of or charged with crimes. For example, if the police arrest a person without a warrant, CrR 3.2.1 requires that a court conduct a hearing within 48 hours to determine whether probable cause exists to charge the person with a crime. If the State does not file an information or indictment within that time, the court must either order that the person be released from jail or set a time for the person to appear before the court within the next 24 hours. Thus, the total time during which a person who is arrested without a warrant can be held in jail is 72 hours, unless an information or indictment is filed. Notably, the 72-hour period does not include weekends or holidays.

If a person is charged with a crime that is not a capital offense, CrR 3.2 provides that he or she generally should be released on his or her own recognizance until the trial. There are exceptions for cases in which the court determines that the person is not reasonably likely to appear for court proceedings, or that the person is likely to commit a violent crime or intimidate witnesses. If the court finds that a person is a flight risk, it is required to impose the least restrictive measures that will ensure that the person will appear at future hearings. In many cases, the court will choose to set a bond that the person must obtain to secure his or her release. If the person cannot obtain the bond, he or she may be subject to pre-trial detention.

When a person is charged with a capital offense, by contrast, CrR 3.2 states that the person should not be released unless the court finds that he or she will appear for later hearings, does not pose a threat to the community, and will not try to interfere with the administration of justice. If the court finds the person to be a flight risk, or if there is a danger of harm or interference, the court can order the person to be detained without bail. In order to impose pre-trial detention without bail on the basis that a person has a propensity for violence, pursuant to RCW 10.21.040, the court must find that there is clear and convincing evidence that the person’s violent tendencies create a substantial likelihood of danger to other people. Anyone detained under RCW 10.21.040 has a right to an expedited review of the detention order.

Avoiding Pre-Trial Detention

In any criminal case, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable attorney who can help mitigate the risk that the defendant may be detained prior to trial. An attorney can gather evidence and facts to support the argument that pre-trial detention is not necessary. In other cases, the role of a lawyer can involve limiting the imposition of any bond or bail or limiting the amount imposed in cases in which a defendant faces the risk of being detained due to a lack of financial resources to obtain a bond or post bail.

Consult a Skilled Tacoma Attorney to Discuss Your Charges

Criminal charges do not automatically result in the loss of a person’s liberty, and in many cases, criminal defendants should not be detained prior to trial. The seasoned criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, can analyze the circumstances surrounding your arrest to help you determine whether you may be able to avoid pre-trial detention. Our main office is in Tacoma, and we are available by appointment at our second office in Vashon. You can reach us through our online form or at 253-363-8662 to schedule a confidential and expert meeting to discuss your case.