While most DUI arrests that occur in Washington State are prosecuted in state and municipal courts, a small percentage do get filed into federal court. That’s because it is the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred and by whom it was made that determines where the case gets filed. If a DUI arrest is made on federal lands or military bases, it is the United States government that prosecutes the case. Therefore, if a person is arrested by a U.S. Forest Ranger or the military police, the case will be heard in federal district court. And while cases are handled a bit differently for civilian defendants versus those that are military personnel, it is still Washington DUI law that will be applied in the Federal court. In Western Washington these cases are filed into the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAW APPLIED IN FEDERAL COURT
Those that are federally prosecuted for DUI in Washington State are done so under Washington DUI law. That means that it is the Washington DUI statutes that apply as well as case law. So even though the federal government has its own criminal code, a person convicted of a federal DUI ins sanctioned pursuant to state law. What changes are the rules of court procedure which are markedly different in the federal system than in the state system. And while the procedural differences will be lost on the person facing the DUI charge, the attorney representing that defendant needs to be acutely aware of what the federal court will expect. The arraignment process, pretrial probation monitoring, case scheduling, trial procedure and rules on appeal are all much different than what a state court practitioner generally experiences.
There also are some fairly important substantive differences as well. For cases that result in a conviction, whether for a DUI or a reduced charge, the federal rarely imposes any period of probation. As a general rule, once the conditions of the court have been met, the case is closed. This can mean a significant departure from a Washington state court that requires 5 years of probation. Because federal court DUI charges are handled much differently than state court DUI cases, be sure to contact s Washington DUI lawyer that is licensed to practice in and experience with the DUI processes in federal court.
MILITARY PERSONNEL VERSUS CIVILIAN DEFENDANTS
Civilians that are arrested for DUI on federal lands are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Those who are in the military on the other hand will be prosecuted by the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Corp attorneys. While the substantive Washington DUI law that will be applied will be the same in both instances, military personnel may, and likely will, face additional sanctions from the military. From being required to participate in drug or alcohol counseling while the case is pending to being placed in a lower pay grade, stripped of rank or even separated from the military, military personnel will have even greater concerns than most civilian defendants. This is probably true in state as well as federal court. If you are in the military and have been arrested for DUI, or any crime for that matter, schedule a consultation with a defense attorney who has experience and knowledge of military policies and procedures.
FEDERAL COURT PRETRIAL PROBATION
Though not imposed in all cases, if a person facing a DUI charge in federal court has prior DUI or criminal history, there is a substantial likelihood that they will be referred to court probation services for monitoring. That means that while the case is pending, the defendant will be made to report to a probation officer, give UA samples and comply with other conditions. Failure to do so would result in a review hearing to be set to determine the degree of non-compliance and whether the individual should be remanded into federal custody.
So while federal DUI cases are largely similar to their state and local counterparts, there are significant differences. Some of these differences can be favorable while others require a degree of caution. If facing a DUI charge in a federal court in Washington, please contact a DUI lawyer a Milios Defense for a consultation on the matter.