Olympia Municipal Court – Olympia, WA

Oct 28, 2021

A municipal court is a court with restrictive area of authority over criminal offenses and civil disputes inside its area. These courts can be located at the county or city level.

Olympia Municipal Court INformation

Court: Olympia Municipal Court
Address: “Lee Creighton Justice Center 900 Plum Street SE, Olympia, WA 98501”
Phone: 360-753-8312

City: Olympia
County: Thurston
State: Washington

What is the purpose of the Olympia Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are often called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” This means that they handle minor crimes, civil cases, and traffic tickets. Courts like Olympia Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

In other situations, the role of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family law matters, personal injury cases, more serious criminal charges, or breaches of contract.

County courthouses have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil matters that can’t exceed the amount of $15,000, while the circuits courts handle felony matters and larger civil matters.

TYPES OF CASES HEARD IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Olympia, Washington

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courthouses in the U.S.. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some places share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better serve their people or to save money on expenditures. The cases that will be heard by a municipal court vary depending on the municipality, but typically include traffic violations, low level criminal charges and code violations.

You will not see a set definition for what establishes a misdemeanor versus a felony crime, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor crimes and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

What’s the process for cases in the municipal court in Olympia?

Municipal courts are the first tier of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic tickets, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Matters are handled by a magistrate who is usually an attorney, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to assist for a specific duration.

Magistrates manage hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and terms of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against suspects by police officers
  • Distribute search warrants to police officers in order to secure evidence from crime locations
  • Conduct preliminary examinations to understand if there is enough evidence to mount a charge

The typical process of a Municipal Court Case

The common process of a municipal courthouse case can be complicated. The following material is an overview of the most common steps involved in a regular municipal court matter.

First Step: An Issuance of Summons

A court summons is sent when an individual has been charged with violating a local rule or state law. The citizen who has received the summons will need to be present at their assigned time and place, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t appear, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1000 or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to respond after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Olympia, WA

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed attorney near you. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be accurate for the Olympia Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that has a penalty of $500 or below, while a misdemeanor can possess penalties up to $1k or one year in jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different charges in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an charges. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you could be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Olympia Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one area or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of charge they have before the court, where it’s at in the process, and what type of information is required by law to be available.

Common Questions ABOUT the Olympia Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Olympia, Washington?

In Washington, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal matters within a town or municipality. Municipal courts have a small area of influence and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty charges and misdemeanor crimes.

What does the municipal court handle in Olympia, Washington?

Depending on the area of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Olympia Municipal Court have?

The count of judges depends on the municipality’s population.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Washington?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set term of years or until they retire. Judges are sometimes chosen by precincts with each precinct’s results evaluated according to population. Municipal judges are often not attorneys but have some legal education and must complete multiple hours of ongoing material every period to maintain their licenses.