The District and Municipal Court Division prosecutes
misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes, which are defined by law as cases
that are punishable by a year or less in custody. The division handles
pre-charging review, charging and disposition, trials, and appeals for these
crimes as well as appearing for contested infractions. The District Court’s
jurisdiction includes all of Kitsap County and the division also prosecutes
cases on behalf of the cities of Bainbridge Island and Port Orchard.
The District and Municipal Court Division is supervised by
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Justin Zaug. The division receives all gross
misdemeanor and misdemeanor referrals made by the Kitsap County Sheriff ’s
Office, the Suquamish Police Department (for non-tribal-member suspects), the
Port Orchard Police Department and the Bainbridge Island Police Department, as
well as any felony DUI referrals that occur in any Kitsap County law
enforcement jurisdiction, including municipalities. The deputy prosecuting
attorneys review each referral and (1) charge a crime or crimes based on the
information in the referred police reports, (2) request additional
investigation, or (3) decline to prosecute if the facts do not support criminal
charges. Once a referral is charged and filed in the appropriate court, this
division handles the criminal prosecution until there is a final disposition
such as a guilty plea or trial with a jury verdict.
Most new criminal deputy prosecutors begin their legal
career in the District and Municipal Court Division. The supervisors of this
division devote a great deal of time closely supervising the new prosecutors on
everything from caseload management to trial skills. There are many things to
learn as a new attorney, from simple file flow and office standards to the
nuances of domestic violence and victim’s rights. The supervisors work closely
with the attorneys every step of the way through weekly meetings to discuss
difficult cases or to conduct training.
DUI prosecution continues to be a priority for the division.
DUI law is complex, constantly evolving and aggressively litigated by defense
attorneys. To ensure our approach to DUI prosecution is always up-to-date,
well-informed and comprehensive, we assign one experienced deputy prosecutor
the primary responsibility of DUI litigation, which also includes prosecuting
felony DUI offenders in Superior Court. The DUI deputy prosecutor has the time
resources to focus exclusively on tracking changes to DUI law, educating law
enforcement on these changes and identifying, and prioritizing prosecution of
repeat DUI offenders.
Finally, while prosecuting repeat DUI offenders is a
priority for this office, the courts in the District and Municipal Court
Division are considered rehabilitation courts and there is much attention and
thought given to what is best for the community vis-a-vis the defendant. A case
disposition may require the defendant to undergo and successfully complete
alcohol or chemical dependency treatment, victim impact panel, defensive
driving classes, domestic violent treatment, etc. Because many of the crimes
involve suspended driving privileges, defendants are often given an opportunity
to clear up their licensing issues and become fully insured, licensed drivers,
which is a benefit to them and to the community.