Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Glossary
This glossary is included to assist in understanding the statistical tables.
INFRACTIONS - CASE TYPES
Infractions are identified and defined under RCW 46.63.020 and include violations of traffic statutes, laws, or ordinances that are not punishable by a jail sentence. There are three types of infractions:
Traffic Infractions - Cases that pertain to (1) the operation or condition of a vehicle whether it is moving, standing, or stopping, and (2) pedestrian offenses.
Non-Traffic Infractions - Cases including violations of RCW 18.27.340 and 18.106.020, contracting and plumbing license violations, and offenses decriminalized under municipal code, such as dog leash violations in some municipalities.
Parking Infractions - Cases pertaining only to violations of parking statutes and ordinances.
INFRACTIONS - FILINGS
Notices of Infraction Filed - Individual Uniform Court Docket forms received by the reporting court during the period. Each notice of infraction can contain up to three charges. Previously closed matters that have been reopened (for example, FTA's) are not counted. Violations charged are shown separately.
Number of Violations Charged - All violations for those infractions filed during the period as recorded on the Uniform Court Docket under the section entitled, "and did then and there commit each of the following offenses/infractions." There will be at least one, and no more than three, violations per notice of infraction (increased from two, effective January 1, 1995).
PROCEEDINGS (Used in several reporting categories)
Proceedings include all hearings held in open court. A proceeding is conducted in "open court" if it is held in a courtroom with the judge, at least one of the parties to the action is present, and court is "in session." Hearings outside the courtroom, such as those in chambers, should only be considered to be in open court if they are "on the record" (electronically recorded where statute requires).
INFRACTION PROCEEDING TYPES
Mitigation Hearing - A hearing at which the offender agrees to having committed the offense but wishes to explain the circumstances to the court, pursuant to provisions of RCW 46.63.100. Witnesses may not be required to attend but may attend voluntarily.
Contested Hearing - A hearing at which the defendant contests the infraction pursuant to the provisions of RCW 46.63.090. Witnesses, including the citing officer, may be required to attend.
Show Cause Hearing - A hearing resulting from a failure by the defendant to appear for a requested mitigation or contested hearing. If the show cause hearing is followed immediately by a contested or mitigation hearing, the second hearing is also reported in the appropriate category.
Other Hearing on the Record - Any hearing, other than those above, that meets the criteria for proceedings that must be electronically recorded where statute requires. Routine paper signing is not counted in this category. Two criteria are used to determine this type of hearing. First, at the onset of the hearing, the judge states the name and number of the case and the names of the attorneys for the parties who are represented. Second, a record of the proceeding must be kept according to the appropriate method (i.e., electronically recorded where statute requires or recorded on the docket).
DISPOSITIONS (Used in several reporting categories)
A disposition is the resolution of an issue that has been brought before the court.
INFRACTION DISPOSITION TYPES
Each violation charged has one disposition. This includes all dispositions within the report period, regardless of when the charge was originally filed.
Paid - An instance when the defendant has paid the penalty in full for the infraction offense without an appearance in court by the defendant or his or her representative. The Abstract of Judgment will be marked as "P."
Committed--Failure to Respond/Failure to Appear - An instance when the defendant failed to respond to a notice of infraction (FTR) or failed to appear for a scheduled hearing (FTA). This represents a final disposition regardless of any subsequent actions or payments.
Committed - A decision by the court that a defendant committed the infraction that was charged. This includes charges in which the defendant failed to meet the conditions of a deferred finding agreement (described below) associated with a traffic infraction charge.
Not Committed - A decision by the court that a defendant has not committed the infraction that was charged.
Dismissed - An infraction charged against the defendant and rejected by the court. This includes charges dismissed as a result of defendant's successful completion of the conditions of a deferred finding agreement.
TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS – DEFERRED FINDINGS
Those traffic infractions for which the court defers findings for up to one year and imposes specific conditions and costs on the defendant, as authorized by SSB 2776 - Chapter 110, Laws of 2000 (effective June 8, 2000). At the end of the deferral period, if the defendant has successfully met those conditions and has not committed another traffic infraction, the court may dismiss the charge. If the defendant fails or re-commits, the court will enter a judgment of committed and impose appropriate penalties. Outcomes for these deferrals are included in the appropriate "Committed" or "Dismissed" disposition counts.
APPEALS (Used in several reporting categories)
All cases that have been appealed to the superior court. Appeals are counted by case rather than by charge.
INFRACTIONS - REVENUE
All monies received during the report period for penalties and assessments in connection with infractions, regardless of when the original infractions were filed or processed. Effective July 22, 2001 this includes a $12 JIS fee (raised from the $10 fee in effect from June 9, 1994 through July 21, 2001), which is imposed on all committed infractions and is subject to two Public Safety and Education Assessments (PSEA-1 and PSEA-2). Effective July 27, 2003 infraction revenue also includes an additional $20 penalty (raised from $10 effective July 22, 2001 through July 26, 2003), which is imposed on all committed infractions. Effective January 1, 1998 the Washington State Legislature imposed a new $5 penalty on all committed traffic infractions, which is dedicated entirely to support emergency medical services and trauma care. The infractions revenue reporting category does not include the PSEA-2 assessment. For that figure, see "PSEA-2", which follows.
PSEA-2 (PUBLIC SAFETY AND EDUCATION ASSESSMENT-2)
All monies received during the report period which are based on the PSEA-2 state assessment. This includes assessments received from both infractions and criminal citations (misdemeanors). The PSEA-2 assessment, originally implemented May 1, 1986 at 30%, was increased to 35% on July 27, 2003. The actual figure is shown in the annual report only, in the "Revenue" court level tables and the "Misdemeanor Activity" statewide table.
MISDEMEANORS - CASE TYPES
Misdemeanors are violations of traffic and criminal statutes, laws, or ordinances that are punishable by a jail sentence and not by imprisonment. This includes all traffic violations that may be classed as criminal offenses and are listed as exceptions under RCW 46.63.020.
DUI/Physical Control - Cases that cite RCW 46.61.502, driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or RCW 46.61.504, actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
Other Traffic Misdemeanors - All citations and complaints other than those counted under DUI or Physical Control, that pertain to the operation or use of a vehicle.
Non-Traffic Misdemeanors - Criminal cases, excluding DUI and Physical Control, Other Traffic misdemeanors, and Felony complaints, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
MISDEMEANORS - FILINGS
Citations/Complaints Filed - Individual Uniform Court Docket forms received by the reporting court during the period. Each Uniform Court Docket form can contain up to two charges. Misdemeanor complaints filed by the prosecutor, which may contain more than two charges, are also included.
Number of Violations Charged - All charges listed on the misdemeanor citations and complaints filed during the period. There will be at least one charge per citation.
TRIAL SETTINGS (Used in several reporting categories)
A setting denotes the establishment of a trial date and courtroom. Settings include all scheduling and rescheduling during the report period, regardless of the date for which the trial is set.
Non-Jury Trials Set - The scheduling of bench trials before the judge (without a jury), at which the individual contests the charges or claims against him or her.
Jury Trials Set - The setting of any trial on a jury trial calendar.
MISDEMEANOR PROCEEDING TYPES
Arraignment - A separate hearing that consists of reading the complaint to the defendant or stating the substance of the charge, and advising the defendant of his of her rights for the purpose of allowing the defendant to enter a plea.
Non-Jury Trial - A bench trial before the judge (without a jury) at which the defendant contests the charges made against him or her. A witness must be sworn before a hearing may be counted as a non-jury trial. Introduction of exhibits and stipulation to the record are not sufficient criteria for counting a hearing as a non-jury trial.
Jury Trial - A trial before a jury at which the defendant contests the charges. A jury trial is counted once, when it starts. A jury trial has started when the following events have taken place: (1) the jury has been impaneled, (2) voir dire has occurred, and (3) the jury has been sworn and is ready to hear evidence. Jury trials are reported regardless of whether the jury eventually renders a verdict.
Stipulation to the Record - A hearing before a judge at which the defendant maintains a plea of "not guilty," but stipulates to a reading of the record. Witnesses may be examined by the judge. A finding of guilt is normally entered based on the facts in record.
Other Hearing on the Record - Any other hearing on a misdemeanor matter that meets the criteria for proceedings that must be electronically recorded where statute requires. Routine paper signing is excluded from this category.
MISDEMEANOR DISPOSITION TYPES
Each misdemeanor violation charged will have one disposition. Included are all dispositions within the period, regardless of when the charge was originally filed. Dispositions do not reflect outstanding warrants.
Bail Forfeiture - Charges for which the defendant has paid the penalty for the offense without an appearance in court by the offender or his or her lawyer (valid through 6/30/2012). Beginning 7/1/2012, all criminal offenses require a mandatory court appearance. Criminal offense cases may no longer be resolved by bail forfeiture. (CrRLJ 3.2)
Guilty - Charges for which the defendant has been found guilty, following an appearance before the court.
Not Guilty - Charges for which the defendant has been found not guilty, following an appearance before the court.
Dismissed - Charges which have been dismissed. This includes charges where the defendant has successfully completed the probationary period resulting from deferred prosecution.
Misdemeanor Reduced or Amended to a Lesser Charge - DUI or Physical Control charges which are amended or reduced to other traffic misdemeanors. Activity subsequent to the reduction or amendment, including final disposition, is counted under "Other Traffic Misdemeanors."
Misdemeanors with Prosecution Deferred or Diverted - Those citations or complaints for which the court orders or allows the parties to enter into a stipulated agreement which imposes specific conditions on the defendant. Upon completion or adherence to the conditions, the court may dismiss or amend the charge. Deferred prosecution under RCW 10.05 is included, along with other types of deferrals such as deferred findings, deferred sentences, agreed continuances, or court accepted diversion programs. Diversion intervenes either prior to arraignment or prior to trial.
MISDEMEANORS - COURT COSTS RECOVERED
Reimbursement by a convicted defendant of certain court costs incurred by local government in the disposition of an offense. These costs may include public defense, sheriff's fees, criminal witness fees, criminal jury fees, and court interpreter fees. Reimbursements reflect the actual amount recovered in the period.
MISDEMEANORS - REVENUE
Monies received during the report period for fines, forfeitures, and penalties in connection with misdemeanors, regardless of when the original citations/complaints were filed or processed. This does not include transactions involving trust accounts, unless money that had been deposited in a trust account is forfeited to the court. (The PSEA-2 assessment is not included. For that figure, see the description of "PSEA-2", following "INFRACTIONS – REVENUE".)
CIVIL CASE PROTECTION ORDERS
A petition for an order of protection filed by a person seeking relief from an allegedly violent person, either related to or living with the petitioner. Antiharassment petitions included in this category began to be processed by district courts July 1, 1991. Stalking protection order petitions began reporting in this category effective July 28, 2013.
CIVIL CASE PROTECTION ORDER PROCEEDING TYPES
Ex Parte Hearing - A hearing concerning temporary orders at which either the respondent, the petitioner, or their representative is present. Includes hearings which modify temporary orders for protection.
Full Order Hearing - A hearing concerning full orders of protection at which either the respondent, the petitioner, or their representative is present. Includes hearings which modify full orders for protection.
CIVIL CASE PROTECTION ORDER DISPOSITION TYPES
Full Orders Granted - The petition for the full protection order is granted by the court.
Denied/Dismissed - Includes both temporary and full orders for protection which were not granted by the court.
Transferred to Superior Court - Full order petitions must be transferred to superior court if one or more of these conditions exist: (1) if the superior court has exercised jurisdiction over a proceeding involving the parties, (2) child custody is involved, or (3) there is a request to exclude a party from a dwelling which both parties share.
CIVIL - FILINGS
All complaints or petitions filed by a private or corporate party against another private or corporate party requesting the enforcement or protection of a civil right, alleging civil damages, or calling for the redress or prevention of a wrong. In addition, these filings include small claims judgments that have been transferred to the civil court.
Effective June 8, 2000, district court jurisdiction includes civil cases with damages to a maximum of $50,000. (This limit has increased several times over the years: $25,000 effective July 1, 1991, $35,000 effective July 27, 1997.) On June 11, 1998, municipal court jurisdiction was expanded to include determination of issues in one type of civil matter -- vehicle impoundments authorized by agents of the municipality.
CIVIL PROCEEDING TYPES
Non-Jury Trial - A bench trial before the judge (without a jury) to decide the facts of the original issues of the case. A witness must be sworn before a hearing may be counted as a non-jury trial.
Jury Trial - A trial before a jury. A jury trial is counted once, when it starts. A jury trial has started when the following events have taken place: (1) the jury has been impaneled, (2) voir dire has occurred, and (3) the jury has been sworn and is ready to hear evidence. Jury trials are reported regardless of whether or not the jury eventually turns in a verdict.
Other Participatory Hearing - A proceeding other than a trial in open court at which at least one of the parties to the case is present. Other participatory hearings include supplemental proceedings, 72-hour commitments for observation purposes, false alarm hearings, and vehicle impound hearings. Motions and reconsiderations argued in open court where one of the parties to the case is present are also counted.
CIVIL DISPOSITION TYPES
Default Judgment - An instance where the defendant has failed to contest the action or failed to appear in court, and the court has found for the plaintiff on a motion for a default judgment.
Other Pretrial Disposition - Instances in which the case has been disposed of by some judgment or manner other than a default judgment, without having proceeded to trial. Reasons for such dispositions include summary judgments, dismissals, agreed judgments, changes of venue, and cases that were filed improperly due to the residency of the defendant.
Judgment/Disposition After Trial - Cases that have been disposed after having proceeded to trial, even if the case was disposed without successful completion of the trial. The important differentiation between this disposition category and those preceding is that a trial was commenced. Disposition may include dismissals or stipulations as well as judgments.
CIVIL - POST-JUDGMENT WRIT
A writ issued after judgment for the purpose of capturing funds. Included are writs of garnishment, execution, and replevin.
CIVIL - REVENUE
All monies received during the report period for payment of filing fees, fees for the law library, writs, record searches, copying, and notarizing. Antiharassment petition filing fees have been included in this category since July 1, 1991.
SMALL CLAIMS - FILINGS
Civil causes of action limited to redress through damages not to exceed $4,000 (increased from $2,500 in 2001), and where parties are not represented by attorneys.
SMALL CLAIMS PROCEEDING TYPES
Trial - A trial in open court at which both parties to the action are present and contesting the matter and a witness is heard.
Other Participatory Hearing - A proceeding in open court, other than a trial, where one of the parties is present.
SMALL CLAIMS DISPOSITION TYPES
Default Judgment - A judgment made when the defendant has failed to contest the action or failed to appear in court.
Other Pretrial Disposition - A case which has been disposed of by some judgment or manner, other than a default judgment, without having proceeded to trial. These dispositions include summary judgment, dismissal, agreed judgment, and transfers.
Judgment/Disposition After Trial - A case which has been disposed after having proceeded to trial. This classification is used for dispositions even if the case was disposed of without successful completion of the trial. The important differentiation between this disposition category and those preceding is that a trial was commenced.
SMALL CLAIMS - JUDGMENTS TRANSFERRED TO CIVIL DEPARTMENT
Judgments that have been transferred to the civil court for collection purposes. These are considered to be new filings in the civil section.
SMALL CLAIMS - APPEALS TO SUPERIOR COURT
All small claims cases that have been appealed to the superior court. Appeal is possible in a small claims case only if the amount claimed was $100 or more, and if the defendant did not make a cross-claim against the plaintiff.
SMALL CLAIMS - REVENUE
All monies received during the report period for payment of small claims filing fees and fees for record searches, copying, and notarizing.
FELONY - COMPLAINTS
Complaints filed in district court that allege the commission of a criminal act punishable by a prison sentence. The jurisdiction of district courts is to provide a preliminary hearing; superior courts have jurisdiction for trying felony complaints. Each defendant is counted only once, regardless of the number of charges on the complaint.
FELONY - PROBABLE-CAUSE DEFENDANTS
Those felony matters (including felony in-custody defendants) for which a felony complaint has not yet been filed. These include all persons brought before the district court on a felony matter for determination of probable cause for the arrest and/or preliminary appearance (also known as “first appearance”). In addition to determining probable cause to hold, the judge typically reviews police reports, makes release decisions, and sets bail. Additional hearing activity may also occur for these defendants, including fugitive warrants, “second appearances” (at which the prosecutor must recommend release or determine that charges will be filed directly into superior court), and “expedited felony appearances” in which the prosecutor determines whether the complaint/information will be filed in district court as a misdemeanor or directly in superior court as a felony. (Note: Caseload publications prior to 2003 referred to this category as "Felony In-Custody Defendants.")
FELONY PROCEEDING TYPES
Preliminary Appearance - A hearing at which a defendant is informed of the nature of the charges. Bail may be determined at this hearing.
Formal Charge Hearing - A hearing at which the defendant is formally charged with a felony complaint. This hearing is sometimes called an arraignment, although the defendant cannot plead guilty to felony charges.
Felony Preliminary Hearing - A hearing in open court for the purpose of determining if there is sufficient cause to bind the defendant over for trial in superior court for the charges alleged. Witnesses may be required to attend, and evidence may be introduced.
Other Participatory Hearing - Any other hearing relating to a felony charge at which the defendant or an attorney representing either side is present. This category includes additional hearings to reduce bail, to release the defendant on personal recognizance, or to continue a previous hearing in order to receive additional information.
FELONY DISPOSITION TYPES
Dismissed - All charges against the defendant have been dismissed.
Bound Over to Superior Court - Sufficient cause has been found to bind the defendant over to be tried in superior court for any of the charges alleged.
Reduced to Misdemeanor - An instance in which all felony charges are dropped, but the defendant is still charged with a misdemeanor. The defendant may have entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge, a complaint may have been amended, or the case may have been refiled as a misdemeanor.
JUDICIAL NEEDS ESTIMATES (ANNUAL REPORT ONLY)
- The number of full-time resident judges in court at year end. Excludes visiting and pro tempore judges.
Commissioners - The number of full-time and part-time commissioners in court at year end. Excludes visiting and pro tempore commissioners.
Acting as Superior Court Commissioners - Total limited jurisdiction court judicial FTE's serving as general jurisdiction commissioners.
Total Judicial Officers - The number of full-time judges, full-time commissioners, and part-time commissioners, excluding visiting and pro tempore judges and commissioners. It also excludes the FTE's identified under "Acting as Superior Court Commissioners."
Total Estimated Judicial Need - Judicial officer FTE estimates based on the input-output methodology. (See "Description of Methodology" following the Judicial Needs Estimates tables.)
STAFFING (ANNUAL REPORT ONLY)
Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
- The combined number of hours for which a group of individuals is paid to work each week during the year, divided by a standard number of hours per week. For example, a person that is paid to work 40 hours per week equals one FTE. Two people working a 20-hour week are equivalent to one FTE.
Judges - The number of resident full-time judges in district or municipal court as of year end.
Commissioners - The number of court commissioners in district or municipal court as of year end. These numbers are broken down into full- and part-time positions, as reported by the court.
Permanent Full-Time Staff - The number of full-time administrative staff, excluding the court administrator.
Part-Time and Temporary Staff - The number of permanent administrative staff working at less than a full time workweek and the number of staff working less than a full year. Full-time status is based on the staff workweek.
Staff Workweek - The number of hours that are officially recognized as constituting a full-time work week for administrative staff.