Lacey, WA asked in Criminal Law and Municipal Law for Washington

Q: I was involved in a liquor board sting. I was not given a ticket, citation, summons, any sort of notification to appear

(Convenience store clerk) At the time of the alleged incident all I received was a business card from the accusing officer & was told I would be hearing from the district attorney if they decided to go forth with charges. 8 months later I was pulled over on a traffic stop & arrested on a warrant for charges stemming from that incident (as far as I know at this point). My arrest was the first I had heard of it since the alleged incident took place. I spent 4 days in country jail.

My question is what steps must be followed to notify a person that they must appear in court? If I had received a ticket, a letter, personal service of court documents, ANYTHING I would have taken care if it immediately. Now I have an arrest on my record because I didn't know anything about it. Also, the date of the warrant was 4 months after the alleged incident took place. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Stan Glisson
Stan Glisson
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: Unfortunately this is not uncommon. Investigators send their report to the local prosecutor, who may take weeks or months to file a charge. The court sends a summons to whatever address they can find for you, and that is often an out of date address; could be the one you had the last time you got a speeding ticket for example.

You don't get the summons, so you don't appear at the first court date and they issue a warrant.

You should definitely get in contact with a lawyer who practices in the court where your charge was filed, so they can look in to this warrant issue.

Oh, and WSP (who maintains the criminal record database) is who you should contact about deleting the arrest record. Your lawyer should know how to file a motion to delete non-conviction data.

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