I often get phone calls from WSU students who were stopped and arrested by the police while walking home (either on the campus of Washington State University or within Pullman city limits) but not given any kind of paperwork related to their case. This situation causes confusion and raises many questions: 1) Have I been charged with a crime? 2) Will I have to appear in court? 3) If so, when? 4) When should I retain a lawyer?
I will address each question below. If you have additional questions, don't hesitate to call me for a free consultation.
1) If you didn't receive a paper citation from the officer you have not been charged with a crime...yet.
What the officer will do is send his or her police report to the Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney's Office to request that you be charged with the crime which led to your arrest (MIP, MIC, Minor Exhibiting, etc.). If the prosecuting attorney decides to charge you with a crime, he or she will file a criminal complaint with the Whitman County District Court. You will receive a copy of this complaint in the mail along with a summons telling you when you must appear in court for your arraignment.
2) & 3) If you are charged, you will eventually have to appear in court.
However, if you retain an attorney, your attorney can appear for you at most court hearings. Every case is different, so call me for a free consultation if you're unsure whether and when you might be required to appear.
4) You won't need to retain an attorney until you are actually charged.
However, it's helpful to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss exactly what to expect in your particular case . We can check the court records while speaking with you to tell you whether charges have been filed and if you've been assigned a court date yet.