Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of frequently asked questions from families with children in the juvenile justice system.
Many of the answers listed below are specific to our local county but still offer insight on how things may work in your community.
How do we access the legal services of a court-appointed attorney/public defender?
How do we find out who the public defender assigned to the case is?
In Thurston County, the attorney assigned to your child’s case may attempt to make contact with you before the hearing. If they are not able to contact you before the date of the hearing, they will speak with you at the time of the hearing, prior to your child going before the court official. If you have questions about who is assigned to the case or if you have not heard from them, you could also choose to contact the office directly at 360-754-4897.
What is discovery?
Simply put, discovery is the exchange of the legal information and the known facts or evidence between both the prosecution and defense.
How do I hire a private attorney?
What is a probable cause hearing?
The purpose of a probable cause hearing also called a preliminary hearing, is to weigh how sufficient the evidence is. It can also give the defense attorney a glimpse of who the prosecution will likely call as a witness.
What is an arraignment hearing?
An arraignment hearing is when the youth is formally told about charges that are being brought against them. Standard practice in most arraignment hearings is for the child to initialy plead “not guilty”. This gives the youth and defense attorney time to talk before the child decides how he or she wants to resolve the case.
Will I have to post bail?
There are times when a judge sets bail. Bail is usually based on three things. The severity of allegations, the likelihood that the youth may commit another crime, and sometimes whether it is believed that the child will show up to all their court hearings. Your attorney should be able to provide you with more information on the likelihood of a judge setting bail.
How does a bail bond work?
You may hear the words “bail” and “bond” used interchangeably. The two words are closely related but not the same. Bail is the sum of money a youth is required to pay entirely to get out of jail. A bond is money that is posted on a youth’s behalf, usually by a bail bond company, to secure their release.
What is a pre-trial hearing?
A pre-trial hearing is what most the majority of hearings are called after the initial arraignment but before a matter goes to trial are called. The purpose of pre-trial hearings is to try and resolve some of the legal issues and to make sure the case is moving forward towards resolution or trial.
What is a decline of jurisdiction or remand hearing?
A decline of jurisdiction or remand hearing is a process of determining whether the case of a juvenile with certain serious charges will be transferred to an adult criminal court or stay in juvenile court.
What is a disposition hearing?
In a disposition hearing, also known as a sentencing hearing, the judge hears the details of the youth’s case and orders a set of requirements for the child to follow. This is called a disposition order, and it may include things such as incarceration, probation, treatment, community service, and more.
What is a competency hearing?
A competency hearing is a hearing where the judge decides if the youth is “competent” to be tried. A child cannot be tried if he or she is not competent. To be found competent, the youth must be able to understand the court process and be able to assist the attorney in his or her defense. If the child is not able to accomplish these because of a mental condition, the youth cannot stand trial.
What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is when the defense and prosecution make an agreement. The youth agrees to plead guilty or “no contest” in exchange for a deal by the prosecutor to drop one or more charges, reduce a charge to a less serious offense, or recommend to the judge a specific sentence acceptable to the defense.