Criminal defendants are commonly prosecuted in the court that has jurisdiction over the area where the crime allegedly occurred. If the state fails to identify the proper court to prosecute charges against a defendant, the defendant can move to have the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In some cases, however, it may not be clear which court may properly exercise jurisdiction over a matter.
In Washington v. Taylor, a Washington Court of Appeals recently clarified that a city’s adoption of the DUI statute did not grant the city sole jurisdiction for prosecuting any violations of the statute. Rather, the court held the District Court for the county where the violation occurred properly had jurisdiction over the matter. If you are charged with a DUI, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to help you protect your rights.
Defendant’s DUI Trial
Allegedly, the defendant was stopped for suspicion of DUI in Spokane. He failed field sobriety tests and was charged with a DUI. The defendant was tried before a jury in Spokane County District Court and was subsequently found guilty. He appealed, arguing the Spokane County District Court lacked jurisdiction over his case. Specifically, he noted that when Spokane enacted its Municipal Code it adopted several state statutes, including the DUI statute. The defendant alleged the adoption of the DUI statute granted the Spokane Municipal Court with sole jurisdiction of all DUIs that occurred within the confines of the city. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, after which he sought discretionary review.