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Washington Court Records

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What are Washington Specialty Courts?

The court structure in Washington allows for handling diverse cases, and each state in the US has a unique court system to manage many instances of criminal or civil nature. In Washington, the trial court comprises toll courts, traffic violations bureaus, municipal courts, and district courts. These courts deal with legal issues and hand judgments involving fines and penalties to guilty persons. For criminal and civil cases, the superior courts in Washington have general jurisdiction over such litigation.

If the offender seeks an appeal to a judgment, such a person can file petitions to the appellate court under appellate court judges’ authority. Appellate courts operate under the power of discretionary jurisdiction, which is the power to decide which cases to review. If an appeal is denied, then the last decision rendered holds.

The judicial system of Washington state also has a specialized court section with the aim to reintegrate offenders back into society through intensive probation programs other than punishments. Specialty courts preside over cases when there is limited jurisdiction by law or handed over to another court with exclusive jurisdiction.

Title 2, Chapter 2.30 Revised Code of Washington Therapeutic Courts outlines the functions of specialty courts in Washington. The Legislature of Washington directs that trial courts utilize therapeutic courts to allow eligible defendants to obtain treatment services to address specific issues that may have contributed to the conduct that led to the arrest or other matters before the court.

Specialty courts, also known as therapeutic courts, target solving human behavior leading to criminal offenses. Such matters involve issues of substance abuse and mental health. Specialized courts were established with the association of Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR). However, specialty courts have limited jurisdiction and can only focus on particular problems involving cases of drugs, domestic violence, and mentally unstable offenders. There are seven categories of specialty courts in Washington, including:

  • Adult Drug Court: This specialty court was established to reduce an offender’s chances of becoming a habitual lawbreaker and improve the rehabilitation chances of a non-violent offender through rigorous judicially supervised therapy. These include mandatory periodic drug tests and other rehabilitation services. The state of Washington has 28 adult drug courts.
  • Juvenile Drug Court: Within the juvenile jurisdiction, this court is concerned with delinquency cases. Youths tagged with the Juvenile Drug Court have substance abuse issues relating to drugs or alcohol. Offenders will go through a series of weekly meetings for one year. Juvenile drug courts in Washington are 11 in number.
  • Family Dependency Treatment Court: Deals with domestic cases involving neglect and abuse arising from the parent’s drug abuse. Due to the complexity of such situations, treatment personnel, attorneys, judges, and child protection services unite to save children from physical and psychological harm. Protecting children from harm is done by locating a benign, nurturing permanent home and providing a platform for the parents’ permanent recovery to become abstinent from alcohol and drugs eventually. There are 18 family dependency treatment courts in Washington.
  • Mental Health Court: Mental Health Court was developed to mitigate the high rate of mentally unhealthy people registered in the criminal justice system. The mental health court diversifies selected mentally imbalanced perpetrators into judicially administered, community-based treatment. The state of Washington stipulates that the use of mental health courts is voluntary. Only after special evaluation and screening would a defendant be invited to participate in the program. The court develops treatment plans for persons who accept the invitation. Such partakers must agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision by psychologists and a team of court staff. Mental health courts in Washington are 15 in total.
  • DUI Court: Post-conviction court, known as DUI court, hear cases of traffic violators under the category of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). DUI courts aim to protect public safety by significantly reducing the likelihood of repeated traffic infractions due to alcohol or drug abuse. DUI courts closely monitor DUI offenders by field and home visits. The use of technology, such as SCRAM transdermal alcohol infraction devices and Ignition Interlock devices, may also be employed. DUI courts are present in 7 counties in Washington.
  • Veterans Treatment Court: In the US, there are separate court systems that handle military cases. In the scenario of retired military operatives involved in offenses against the law due to mental issues, the veteran’s treatment court presides over such a case. Any former member of the Armed Forces of the United States is eligible to partake in specialized services by the veteran’s treatment court to gain proper benefits, therapy, and counsel. There are nine veterans treatment courts in the state of Washington.
  • Domestic Violence Court: This court manages domestic violence that may pose threats to the victim. By collaborating with the judiciary and social services, protection is granted to the victim by providing a new residence and job training. The job training is made possible for the victim to have an independent existence from the offender.

Other therapeutic programs include homeless court, community court, gambling court and treatment, responsibility, and accountability on campus, “Back on TRAC,” court.

Specialty courts operate with distinct rules when compared to other kinds of court. The supreme court justices have the authority to manage civil and criminal cases. Interested parties can obtain specialty court records through the supreme court docket. The United States has a dedicated docket search under the supreme court jurisdiction online. Users can proceed to search for a docket in a specific case by using a docket number or case name.

In the US’s criminal registry, the specialty court is charged with the duty of identifying the most eligible candidate to undergo a rehabilitation program. In cases of a pending criminal lawsuit, the defendant, lawyers, or court may file a petition to transfer to a specialty court program. During a sentencing hearing, probation officers may use a combination of evidence-based assessment tools to evaluate and detect potential participants in the specialty court program.

Once the offender is found to be eligible, the specialty court judge will proceed to review the case. After the selection process, defendants must consent to the agreement’s terms, although participation is not mandatory. Also, the Judicial Information System (JIS) is available to Washington state residents to locate cases from appellate, superior, juvenile, and limited jurisdiction courts. This automated online tool connects the partner criminal justice agencies and the courts to the JIS database.

Depending on the type of specialty court program, program lengths vary. A drug court probation program could take 18–24 months. It all depends on the progress of the candidate. Suppose the violator exhibits signs of good behavior. In that case, the court may award such offenders with fewer required court appearances, public praise from the judge in court, and curfew change.

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