Bellevue Courthouse DUI Defense
King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse handles misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, infractions and civil violations. It enforces the Bellevue Municipal Code (BMC), which is similar or in some sections identical to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse is a limited jurisdiction court hearing all violations of the Bellevue Municipal Code in the City of Bellevue limits including traffic infractions and both misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor violations of the law which includes DUI and most DUI related offenses.
King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse is located at 1309 114th Avenue SE, Suite 100, Bellevue, WA 98004. (Bellefield Office Park). While actually a division of the King County District Court system, the Bellevue District Court handles only matters which occur within the City of Bellevue and where the arrest was made by the Bellevue Police Department. There are three courtrooms at Bellevue District Court, however all criminal matters are held in either courtrooms 1 or 2. The City is represented by the City Attorney's Office and regularly staffs several full time prosecuting attorneys.
What to Expect if you are Facing a DUI Charge in Bellevue
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Bellevue and processed by a Bellevue Police officer or a King County Sheriff's Deputy, the case will likely be filed into the King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse. For cases filed in Bellevue, the attorneys prosecuting your case will be from the City of Bellevue Attorney's Office, Criminal Division.
DUI Procedure - King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse
First Court Appearance - In most cases, the first court appearance for a DUI is called an arraignment or first appearance. At your first appearance if the prosecutor has decided to file charges, you will be arraigned and then assigned a pretrial hearing date (next court date) about a month later. The judge will most likely will also impose DUI conditions of release.
Arraignment. In many if not most jurisdictions the arraignment and the first appearance are one in the same. In these instances, in addition to determining what conditions should be imposed on the defendant, the court will enter a plea from the accused. In almost every case the best advice is to plead not guilty to the allegation(s). A guilty plea should only be entered at arraignment in very rare cases and hen only after consultation with an attorney. Once the plea has been entered and the conditions of release set. Deputy Bellevue City Attorneys (prosecutors) often ask the judge to impose strict conditions such as bail or an Ignition Interlock Device. An experienced Bellevue DUI defense attorney can usually effectively resist these conditions, especially on first-time offenses.
Conditions of Release for DUI Cases - In many courts, such as King County District Court, East Division in Bellevue, if there are no aggravating circumstances or prior DUI convictions, most prosecutors will ask the judge to impose "standard DUI conditions" such a no driving without license and insurance, commit no criminal law violations, and do not refuse a breath test. However, if there are aggravating circumstances such as an accident, a high breath test or a prior DUI conviction, prosecutors routinely request additional conditions such as bail, no driving without an ignition interlock on the vehicle, and in some situations, have an alcohol detection device installed in their home and be on house arrest. It is not uncommon for District Court judges to impose some of these restrictions, even on first offense DUIs.
It may also be important to have bail money available or a bail bondsman at the ready. Pewitt Law has preferred bail bond agents that do an excellent job for our clients. The good news is that many bail bond companies are at the first appearance ready to help you if the court imposes bail - however, it is best to be prepared in advance.
Because the imposition of bail and conditions such as installation of ignition interlock, SCRAM bracelets and/or pretrial home detention are common, those arrested for DUI in Bellevue should be consulting with a Bellevue DUI Lawyer as soon as possible. Attorneys who practice DUI defense in Bellevue know that it is essential to anticipate what types of conditions of release the Bellevue City Attorney may seek and be prepared to address the court's concerns. Anticipating and addressing the court's likely concerns often can be the difference between imposition of large bail and/or home detention and a release on your personal recognizance (or your promise to appear).
DUI Pretrial Hearings (PTR)
At the pretrial hearing, your Bellevue DUI attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor. DUI negotiations can mean anything from a reduction in the charge, to a dismissal, to the prosecutor saying that no offer will be made. DUI reductions are typically made because of both evidential problems (i.e. the prosecutor may have a tough time proving the case) and equitable reasons (person with no criminal history and a low breath test). Most cases have several PTR's before they are resolved or set for trial. Pre-trial hearings generally occur 4-5 weeks apart. If a good offer is presented by the Deputy Bellevue City Attorney (prosecutor), the case can be disposed of by a plea deal (plea bargain) at a PTR. During this process, your defense attorney will be investigating your case and obtaining police reports, medical records, interviews from witnesses, victims, experts and law enforcement as well as any other evidence related to your case.
It is not uncommon for there to be more than one Bellevue DUI pretrial hearing. This occurs when the attorney asks for a continuance of the hearing. For a continuance to occur, you (the defendant) must waive your right to a trial within 90 days of your first court appearance. If the case is not resolved after a few pre-trial hearings, the court will often pressure the parties to conclude the case with a plea deal or go to trial. If your case is not resolved at the pretrial, then it can be set on for a jury trial. Often there is a pre-trial motion hearing before the DUI trial.
Pretrial Motions A motion hearing is often a testimonial hearing. At a motion hearing the facts and the legal issues are presented for purposes of determining their admissibility at trial. This is a good time to hear the evidence that the arresting police officers or any other witnesses will be offering. DUI substantive legal motions in Bellevue are set at the pretrial hearing stage. Though individual judges in this court sometimes differ on their preferences for when these motions are heard, most DUI motions can be set prior to the day of trial. There are numerous pretrial motions that can have a significant impact on your defense – or even result in the dismissal of your case. A few common ones include motions to challenge probable cause (PC) for the stop or arrest, to challenge admissibility of statements made by the police, witnesses or defendant, motions to compel or limit discovery and motions to dismissed based on insufficient evidence. Pretrial motions require extensive legal briefing and strategic planning to be successful.
Readiness Hearings: In King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse, like most other courts in Washington, when a case is set for trial, the defendant is provided with both a trial date and a readiness date. The readiness date is normally set 4-12 days prior to the actual trial date. At the readiness hearing, parties will either confirm the pre-set trial date, resolve the case by way of an agreed disposition, continue the trial date for a variety of reasons, or set a new date for disposition of some other motion.
DUI Trial in Bellevue: You may choose to go to trial in the event the prosecution has not offered an agreeable plea deal, or if a conviction would be unacceptable or especially damaging to your career or personal life. Your Bellevue DUI case will be set for trial for a specific date. You will need to show up on this date. Once you start your Bellevue DUI trial, if there is a breath or blood test in your case and if motions have not been heard, it is not uncommon for these trials to take 2-3 days once you begin. If there is no breath or blood test in your Bellevue DUI and limited motions, then trial will typically take 1-2 days. You will need to be present for the entirety of the trial.
Jury trials typically proceed in the following order:
- Legal motion
- Jury selection or "voir dire"
- Opening statements
- The prosecution's witnesses
- Defense witnesses (if any)
- Closing arguments.
Coming to Court: King County District Court, East Division, Bellevue Courthouse
From 405: Take SE 8th Ave. Exit; go west toward 112th Ave. SE; turn left on 114th Ave. SE into Bellefield Office Park; the courthouse building is on the right, second building over the bridge.
From I90: Take Bellevue Way Exit; slight right onto 112th Ave SE; turn right onto SE 15th St into Bellefield Office Park; SE 15th St turns slightly left and becomes 114th Ave SE; the courthouse is the second building on the left.
If you have more questions about your Bellevue District Court DUI charges or need help with your case, please contact Pewitt Law, PLLC. Sheri Pewitt, is a Bellevue Washington criminal defense attorney with an emphasis in DUI and criminal traffic law.