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Employees of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office are prohibited by law from answering legal questions or offering legal advice.
Most of our documents are public record. There are statutory exemptions that may apply to certain cases or certain documents in a case. Request forms are available at our on our website at http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/1027/Public-Records-Disclosure-Information. You can also contact the police agency that created the report.
Turn yourself in to jail. And show up for court.
Our Support Services Division may be able to help. Please contact them at (360) 778-5210.
Every employee in this office is issued official identification. Ask to see it.
How much punishment a criminal gets depends on how bad their crime was.To help determine how bad a crime was, the crime is called either a 'felony' or a 'misdemeanor'. Felonies are more serious crimes, and misdemeanors are less serious crimes. Both can result in a jail sentence but only a felony can result in a prison sentence.The maximum sentence a person can receive on a misdemeanor is 365 days or less. Sentences on felonies can be less than or more than a year, and can be up to life in prison. If the sentence is less than a year, the sentence is generally served in a local jail. If the sentence is more than a year the time is generally served in prison.
The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is responsible for prosecuting all adult and juvenile felony cases referred by county law enforcement agencies, and all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases referred by the county sheriff, the State Patrol, all state agencies, and some cities who have contracted with the county for misdemeanor prosecution services.
A deputy prosecuting attorney reviews cases brought to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office by local law enforcement agencies. The reports are reviewed in light of current law and whether the case presented by the agency can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is prohibited by law from providing legal assistance or advice to a defendant. For help, you may contact a private attorney or the Whatcom County Public Defender's Office at (360) 778-5640. The Public Defender represents defendants who cannot afford an attorney.
Enforcement of court orders is a private matter between you and the other person and must be handled by a private attorney. Government attorneys do not settle custodial disputes or enforce court orders between individuals. If a private attorney helped you obtain the order, a private attorney (not a government attorney) must help you enforce the order.
There are several types of restraining orders available to residents of Washington State. Depending on the circumstances will dictate which order is most appropriate.
The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by a prosecutor with the approval of a judge. The victim's wishes alone will not dictate whether or not a case will be filed or dismissed. One reason for this is that some criminal charges affect more than one victim, and the other victims may wish to proceed. Another reason is that sometimes the victim has been intimidated or pressured to drop the charges, or believes that such a request will stop any retaliation. If our office did not proceed in such cases, victims would continue to be intimidated and hurt. If you would like to discuss your case, you should speak with the prosecutor handling the case.
The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney's Office is a non-investigative agency. In most cases, crimes must be reported to the Sheriff’s Department, a Police Department, or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Bellingham it should be reported to the Bellingham Police Department. If the crime was committed in any unincorporated area of Whatcom County, the crime should be reported to the sheriff.The crime may be reported to the local law enforcement agency by calling 911 immediately. There are two levels of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor offenders can never get more than 365 days in jail. Felony offenders could be sent to prison, depending on the crime. If the offender has committed a felony crime, and have been arrested, they will have a First Appearance Hearing the next judicial day after their arrest. If over the weekend, the hearing will be the following Monday. On misdemeanor cases, when an arrest has been made, the arresting office will provide the offender with a citation. At the time of their first appearance, the court will provide them with additional court dates. These hearings occur every weekday morning. If the offender was not located by the police and an arrest has not been made, the police will forward the reports to the appropriate prosecutor’s office and the file will be reviewed to determine if charges can be filed. The victim should contact the responding police agency to find out which prosecuting attorneys office the reports have been forwarded to, if they have not heard from the prosecutor’s office directly.
Witnesses are not only "eye witnesses." You may have seen the crime happen or may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something that contradicts another witness's testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it; there is probably a common-sense reason.
You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can probably sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also witnesses. Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn. In some cases, a Victim / Witness Coordinator from our office may also be with you, if you request. Talk with the prosecutor about that.
Your time at court varies greatly from case to case. Some witnesses will be at the courthouse for more than a day.
Yes. The defendant has a constitutional right to be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say.
We try to accommodate witnesses’ schedules as much as possible, however, it is the court that determines when a case goes to trial. Contact the deputy prosecutor on the case or his/her legal assistant with your scheduling conflict. You should receive a letter with your subpoena with this contact information.