Notice to Criminal Practitioners

Information for Criminal Practitioners


Hearing Appearance Information

  • Most criminal dockets will be held using a hybrid method. This allows for in person or Zoom appearances on these dockets. 
  • Out of Custody Change of Plea defendants must be present for sentencing in order to sign their judgment and sentence and be fingerprinted (required in adult and juvenile felony cases; see RCW 10.64.110) even if the charge is a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. These rules apply to juvenile disposition hearings as well. 
  • In custody change of plea and sentencings will primarily be conducted in person.
    • The assigned department may approve special set sentencing hearings on a case by case basis if unusual circumstances are present. (Seriousness of offense, high degree of community interest, extensive victim impact evidence, substantial sentencing arguments, etc.)
    • If a special set sentencing is approved, a shackling decision must be made by the Judge presiding over the hearing.
    • The Sheriff’s Department needs three (3) days notice prior to the hearing to prepare and serve a shackling motion. See generally, State v. Jackson, 195 Wash.2d 841 (2020); State v. Lundstrom, 6 Wash.App. 388 (2018).
      • The process for a special set sentencing is outlined below
        1. Special set COP and sentencing (with judge’s permission) cited before a judge at least 3 days prior to the date and time for the hearing.
        2. Judicial assistant notifies the jail of the hearing.
        3. Jail decides if it wants to keep the defendant shackled, if so it notifies defense counsel, prepares a shackling motion; defense prepares input. Jail files its shackling motion, defense files its input (if any), both provide copies to the assigned COP judge. All this occurs two days prior to the COP docket.
        4. Judge makes shackling decision, signs and files order, decision communicated to jail, prosecutor, defense counsel. This occurs one day prior to the COP docket.
        5. Day of COP and sentencing: defendant brought over from the jail; COP and sentencing occurs.  


Hearings Requiring Defendant's Physical Presence

Defendant’s physical presence is required for the following hearings:

  • CrR 3.5/CrR 3.6 
  • RCW 98.44.130
  • Contested Competency
  • Out of Custody Change of Plea and Sentencing (Including cases reduced to misdemeanor only charges)
  • Supervised Release Violations
  • Criminal Trials.


Use of Break Out Rooms

Break out rooms should only be used when absolutely necessary to speak with a client during a hearing. They are not a substitute for speaking to a defendant prior to a hearing. Break out room use substantially increases the length of dockets, forcing attorneys to wait for long periods to have their matters heard.


Interpreters Involvement in Change of Plea and Sentencing Hearings

After a non-English speaking defendant has been sentenced, the interpreter should review the judgment and sentence with the defendant and sign the attestation on the J&S. If the interpreter is at a remote location and unable to sign the J&S, the interpreter should sign an affidavit indicating they have read the J&S to the defendant and file it with the clerk’s office as soon as is convenient after the sentencing. The verbiage on the form is the same as is found on the J&S. The form is available through the court’s interpretation office.


Criminal Division Continuance Policy

The Criminal Division Continuance Policy Provides policy provides policy information for attorneys and to create consistency within the Criminal Division. 

Judicial Officers will continue to weigh the facts and information in individual cases to ensure justice is served. 

Criminal Division Continuance Policy


Cut off Time for Add-ons

The cut off time for add-ons to any criminal docket is noon the day prior to the docket.


Speedy Trial Waivers - Court Approved Form

Speedy trial waivers need to be signed by defendants prior to or at the hearing where the defendant is in person and they will be moving for a continuance.  Please use the court approved form

Written speedy trial waivers are one of the ways a criminal defendant’s commencement date can be reset. CrR 3.3(c)(2)(i).

Written speedy trial waivers need to be completed and filed at or before a motion for continuance will be heard. If the waiver is filed before the hearing, it must be filed far enough in advance so that it will appear in the electronic court file at the time of the hearing. If this cannot be done the original or a duplicate of the speedy trial waiver must be provided to the court before or at the hearing. E-mailing a copy to the court during the hearing is not acceptable.

Defense counsel should not send speedy trial waivers to the PA’s office or the assigned DPA and expect either to get a copy of the waiver to the court prior to a hearing. This is the responsibility of defendant and his or her attorney. Additionally, attorneys should not e-mail speedy trial waivers to the judicial assistants prior to the hearings. Judicial assistants are not available to review e-mails and print off large numbers of speedy trial waivers right before or during a docket, especially before the readiness dockets.