District Courts have jurisdiction concurrent with the Superior Courts to hear violations of all misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors and all violations of city ordinances. District Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and therefore has limited punishing powers. Crimes or violations committed within their county are tried by the District Court.
Crimes that are traffic related are set forth in RCW 46.63.020. Examples would be DUI, DWS, Fail to Register, No Valid Driver’s License and Negligent Driving 1.
Any person requested or signaled to stop by a law enforcement officer for a traffic violation has a duty to stop, identify himself/herself and provide their current address. Failure to comply with these duties is a misdemeanor.
A response to an infraction must be within fifteen (15) days from the date issued. Any response must be postmarked by midnight of the day it is due at the court. There are several options when an infraction is received:
- Pay the infraction
- Admit the violation and request that the penalty be reduced (mitigation)
- Contest the infraction by requesting a court hearing
- Request the ticket be deferred
If you would like to keep the violation off of your driving record, you may ask the court for deferred findings. Submit your request in writing within the fifteen day response date.
The court will assess a non-refundable administrative fee in the amount of $150, which you will need to pay. The court will defer/delay entering a finding on the infraction and the violation will not be reported to the DOL. If you do not commit another violation within one year from the date of deferral and have paid the administrative fee, the infraction will be dismissed. Failure to comply with any requirements of deferred findings will result in the infraction being committed and reported to the DOL. A person may defer one moving and one non-moving violation once during a seven year period.
**Commercial Driver’s License Holders are not eligible for this program.
**Certain violations may not be deferred. Please see the deferred findings brochure for information.
Night court is available once per month and may be requested in writing or by phone, if you are mitigating or contesting your infraction.
In addition, the option to mitigate, contest and defer an infraction is available through the mail. Infractions contested by mail cannot be appealed.
Examples of infractions are: Speeding violations, Expired Tags, Fail to Stop and No Liability Insurance.
District Court has jurisdiction to hear civil cases if the amount in controversy does not exceed $100,000. The causes of action can arise from contractual obligations, damages for personal injuries, personal property, real property provided the issues do not involve title or possession, etc.
District Court does not have jurisdiction over actions which involve title to property, foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a lien on real property, false imprisonment, libel slander, malicious prosecution, a person in his/her capacity as executor or administrator of an estate. Forms are not available. The civil filing fee is $83.00.
In Small Claims, the jurisdictional amount involved must be $10,000 or less for a natural person. A plaintiff requesting damages in excess of $5,000 or $10,000 may still file a small claim, but by doing so waives the right to recover anything in excess of the jurisdictional amount.
Small Claims is a venue where legal technicalities are relaxed. A person or business can easily navigate the legal process without hiring an attorney. There are no juries, and attorneys are not allowed to represent either party unless permission is granted by a judge.
Forms are provided by the Court. The clerk may assist the parties with the procedure, but are not allowed to give legal advice or to predict how the judge might rule in a given situation.
At the time of filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee of $50.00, which is non-refundable.
A person desiring to change their name may file an action in the District Court of their residence. A person is free to choose any name he/she wants, provided it is not done for fraudulent purposes. Forms are available in the District Court Administration Office. The filing fee is $191.00 (cash/credit-debit) for individual or minor name changes and $192.00 (cash/credit-debit) for family name changes.
Name changes may also be filed in Superior Court. Any person requesting that their name change be sealed should file with Superior Court.
This is another form of restraining order. Persons who are seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed by a course of conduct which serves no legitimate purpose may file this petition. The person filing does not need to have any relationship to the person harassing them. The judge can order any or all of the following:
- Prohibit harassment and contact of any kind
- Restrain party from coming within a specific distance from the petitioner’s workplace, school, residence, etc.
Forms are available at the District Court Administration Office. There is a non-refundable filing fee of $83.00 (cash/credit-debit only).