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The criminal division receives referrals from law enforcement agencies to review for possible criminal charges. While the Prosecuting Attorney has authority to file charges for any criminal offense in Thurston County, the office currently receives referrals only for the following:
All felony offenses which are alleged to have occurred anywhere in Thurston County. All misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses alleged to have occurred in the unincorporated areas of Thurston County
- All misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses alleged to have occurred within the city limits of Tumwater (pursuant to an interlocal agreement with the City of Tumwater)
- All misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses alleged to have occurred within the city limits of Rainier (pursuant to an interlocal agreement with the City of Rainier)
- All juvenile offenses (those committed by a person under the age of 18) alleged to have occurred anywhere in Thurston County
- All traffic infractions issued by any state agency including the Washington State Patrol where the infraction is alleged to have occurred in Thurston County
All traffic infractions issued by the Thurston County Sheriff's Office where the infraction is alleged to have occurred in Thurston County.
The Criminal Division is divided into five trial teams:
- The General Felony Team handles referrals for felony offenses alleged to have been committed by an adult over the age of 18 that does not involve domestic violence, child abuse or a sexual offense. The General Felony Team works closely with law enforcement to prepare cases for trial and represents the county in criminal matters in Superior court. The General Felony Team is the largest division in the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and consists of ten attorneys, two paralegals, five legal support staff, and two crime victim advocates.
- The Special Victims Team (SVT) handles referrals for offenses where the victim is a minor (under the age of 18) or a vulnerable adult due to age or disability, and referrals where the alleged crime is considered a sexually motivated offense. The Special Victims Team is a partner in the Monarch Children's Justice and Advocacy Center, a program that co-locates and coordinates a variety of investigative and social services for child victims of abuse and neglect. The SVT consists of two attorneys, one paralegal and one victim advocate.
- The Domestic Violence Team is responsible for prosecuting all felony domestic violence offenses for Thurston County. The Domestic Violence Team consists of three deputy prosecuting attorneys, one victim advocate, one paralegal, one legal assistant, and one courthouse facility dog. The Domestic Violence Team is co-located at the Thurston County Family Justice Center. We work collaboratively with other community partners to support survivors of domestic violence, increase survivor safety, and hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable.
- The Juvenile Team prosecutes all offenders under the age of 18 who commit felonies and misdemeanors within Thurston County. This team works in collaboration with members from law enforcement, Juvenile Probation, the Clerk's Office and Juvenile Court to ensure community safety and offender accountability while also providing the services and support necessary to assist our youth in becoming responsible citizens. Additionally, our team works to further serve the community by providing crime victims with a victimï¿½s advocate who assists the crime victim with support, information, and resources throughout the pendency of the criminal case. The Juvenile Team consists of two deputy prosecuting attorneys, two legal staff and one victim advocate. In accordance with the mandates of RCW 13.40.010, the goal of the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorneyï¿½s Office Juvenile Team is to provide for community safety, youth accountability, and opportunities for juvenile rehabilitation.
- The District Court Team is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses committed in unincorporated Thurston County and the City of Tumwater. Domestic Violence and Driving under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUI) charges are two primary areas of prosecution for the District Court Team. In addition, the District Court Team appears on certain contested infraction hearings. The District Court Team is staffed by five deputy prosecuting attorneys, one victim advocate, one paralegal, and three legal assistants.
Deputy Prosecutors in the Criminal Division are often called to crime scenes and routinely work closely with investigators providing advice and assistance with legal procedures such as obtaining search warrants or authorizations to intercept and record conversations. The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is a partner in the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force and assigns a full-time Deputy Prosecutor to work on Task Force cases. In addition, several Deputy Prosecutors serve on a variety of community committees and boards whose work further efforts to reduce crime and enhance public safety.
Some offenders will qualify for one or more of the several diversion programs available in Thurston County.
First Look Program
Research has shown that public safety is enhanced by programs that divert low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system and into communityâ€based resource referrals. First Look is a differential case processing program that benefits the entire justice system by identifying individuals who may not benefit from traditional prosecution and attempts to direct them away from criminal justice involvement. Although the program is only in its third year, data confirms that the First Look program generates returns to the community in terms of cost savings, public safety, long-term health and personal stability for justice-involved populations.
The title refers to the "First Look" a prosecutor takes at a defendant's file when they enter the criminal justice system. Under the First Look philosophy, prosecutors examine each case independently to proactively assess the goals of prosecution. Each case represents a unique individual and factors such as prior violations, cooperation with law enforcement, substance use disorder and mental health are taken into account as prosecutors work in partnership with the defense to determine whether an offender is a good fit for the program. For more information on First Look, click here to view our news release.
The Thurston County Drug/DUI Court is a special problem solving court available to eligible offenders who are found suitable for drug treatment. To enter this program, a qualifying criminal defendant must agree to the facts of the case, waive their rights to a trial, and agree to follow all conditions set by the court. In exchange, offenders are offered drug treatment without under the supervision of the court. The drug court team, made up of the judge, court and treatment staff, a Deputy Prosecutor and an attorney from the Office of Assigned Counsel work collaboratively with the goal to help the offender be successful with their treatment.
For more information about the Thurston County Drug Court click here.
For more information about drug courts nationally, click here.
Mental Health/Veterans Court
The Thurston County Mental Health/Veterans Court are problem solving courts available to eligible defendants charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor in Thurston County District Court. To be eligible, the offender must be diagnosed with a mental illness and the deputy prosecutor on the case must be satisfied that a nexus exists between the defendantï¿½s mental illness and the crime they are accused of committing. For Veteranï¿½s Court, the offender must be diagnosed with a mental illness related to their service in one of the branches of the armed forces. A defendant may only be admitted to the Mental Health or Veteranï¿½s Court by approval of the Mental Health Court team/Veteranï¿½s Court team, made up of the judge, court staff, a Deputy Prosecutor, and an attorney from the Thurston County Public Defense.