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Frequently Asked Questions in Criminal Cases

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After an arrest, it can be difficult to anticipate what will happen next. You may have several questions about what to bring to court, how to dress for various appointments, and what will occur during each stage of your case. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Tacoma can help you understand the answers to these questions, including the following frequently asked queries.

How Should I Dress for Court?

When dressing for the courtroom, professionalism is key. Wear neutral colors such as navy blue, white, light blue, and charcoal, and avoid bright colors like red, pink, and purple. When in doubt, dress as conservatively as possible. Try to keep tattoos covered, remove any visible piercings, and wear closed-toed shoes.

What Should I Bring to Court?

Generally, you do not need to bring anything to court. Your attorney will usually handle the necessary documents on your behalf. If you do need to bring something with you, your lawyer will inform you beforehand. Always listen to your attorney’s instructions.

Can Charges for Domestic Violence Be Dropped?

If you are facing a conviction for domestic violence, the charges may be dropped by the prosecutor who is overseeing the case. Even if no arrest occurs when an officer responds to the crime, the prosecutor will review the report he or she creates to determine whether the state should file charges.

After charges are filed, the prosecutor may request to dismiss the case and a judge will decide whether or not to accept the request. The victim in a domestic violence case does not have the authority to drop these charges; the state treats him or her as a witness.

What Happens at a Pretrial Hearing?

A pretrial hearing is a meeting between you, your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge who is presiding over your case. The purpose of a pretrial hearing is to resolve certain issues before your case proceeds to trial. The prosecutor may present his or her case and evidence against you, and your attorney may cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses.

The judge will also hear pretrial motions that either party intends to file ahead of the trial. Common pretrial motions involve the exclusion of evidence, a motion to dismiss a case, and a motion to change venue or switch judges.

Will It Affect My Case if I Had a Prior Conviction?

Criminal charges in Washington are based on multiple factors, including the presence of aggravating factors and any vulnerable qualities of the victim. In many cases, the number of prior convictions can impact the potential penalties you receive. Repeat offenders tend to face harsher penalties, such as longer prison sentences and higher fines.

The prosecutor may also use past criminal convictions as evidence of poor character, which can be damaging in your future case. However, the court will prohibit the prosecutor from using prior convictions against you in certain circumstances.

Can Charges Be Dropped at an Arraignment Hearing?

The arraignment is a hearing where you will hear the charges against you and enter a guilty, not guilty, or no contest plea. At your arraignment, the prosecutor may choose to dismiss your case if he or she has a reason to do so. However, the prosecutor is not likely to drop criminal charges at the arraignment. Judges do not have the authority to dismiss charges at an arraignment either.

If you are facing criminal charges in Washington, you need an attorney on your side. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact a criminal defense attorney for support in your upcoming case.

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