In addition to protecting and
serving the community by using resources to prevent crime, the police
(and Sheriff) investigate crimes and arrest individuals who are
suspected of committing crimes.
The criminal justice process typically begins when a person is taken
into police custody. An arrest may occur either at the scene of a crime
or later after an investigation has developed probable cause to believe a
specific person committed a particular crime. Arrests are lawful when
the police officers (or Sheriff’s deputies) have probable cause to
believe that the person being arrested has committed a particular
the suspect is in custody, he/she may be identified by the victim or
witnesses, and may make a statement to the police. The defendant will
always be searched, and the officers are entitled to seize any
contraband or evidence found during the search. Evidence includes the
proceeds of the crime, any tools used to commit the crime, distinctive
clothing, or other items that help to connect the defendant with the
crime, the victim or with the scene of the crime.
Once transported to the jail, the suspect will be fingerprinted. The arresting officer also prepares the arrest report, the complaint report, and other police forms at this time.
Types of Charges
In Pierce County, there are three major classes of offenses for which a person may be prosecuted: misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and felonies. Most crimes prosecuted in Pierce County are listed in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).
: Any crime punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than ninety days, or by both such fine and imprisonment is a misdemeanor. Whenever the performance of any act is prohibited by any statute, and no penalty for the violation of such statute is imposed, the committing of such act shall be a misdemeanor.
: All crimes other than felonies and misdemeanors are gross misdemeanors.
: These are crimes for which more than one year of imprisonment may be imposed. Felonies are divided into three classes: “A” through “C.” A class “A” felony is the most serious; a class "C" felony is the least serious. Examples of felonies are robbery, burglary, sale of narcotics, and murder.