Public Defender

State v. Blake

Anyone convicted and sentenced in Washington for possessing controlled substances (illegal drugs) is entitled to have that conviction cleared from their record. The Washington Supreme Court’s recent opinion in State v. Blake, Cause No. 96873-0 (Feb. 25, 2021), held that RCW 69.50.4013 and its predecessor statutes (collectively “RCW 69.50.4013” or “simple possession”) are unconstitutional. 

If you have been convicted of drug possession, you may be entitled to a vacation of your conviction and remissions of any legal fines you have paid.  While we are currently attending to those persons with pending cases or are under sentence, our attention will turn to those persons in the community whose records need clearing. We hope to develop a procedure and plans for those cases soon. For now, if you know that you have an unconstitutional PCS conviction that you would like to vacate on your own, here are some documents that may assist you in the process

Starting March 28, 2022, the Whatcom County Public Defender's Office will be open to the public.   Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.    


The Public Defender's Office was created in 1982 by constitutional mandate to provide indigent legal defense for: 

  • Felony, misdemeanor and probation violation charges against adults and juveniles in Whatcom County Superior and District courts
  • Involuntary mental and alcohol commitments 

Basic Information for Clients

Apply for a Public Defender - Affidavit of Indigency
To check your Superior Court dates
To check your District Court dates
To view the most recent Superior Court calendar 

What is that court date for?

1st appearance

If in custody, the prosecutor has 72 hours (3 business days) to file charges.  The 72 hour rule does not apply when the person is released from jail. 

  • The Judge determines if there is probable cause (PC).
  • The Judge sets conditions of release and the client either is released on personal recognizance (PR) or required to post bail.


  • Client pleads “not guilty” and the court   schedules either a status hearing, omnibus hearing and trial dates.

Status and Omnibus hearings

  • Let’s the court know what the attorney and client are planning (change of plea, trial, continuance, etc).