Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

Answers

How do I request court records?

You may print the Court Recording (CD) Request Form (PDF) or Request for Court Records Form (PDF) and submit your request through the following methods:

  • Email: court@cob.org
  • Fax: (360) 778-8151
  • Mail: Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
  • In person: at the clerk's window in the Municipal Court lobby
You may also contact the court by phone and speak with the records clerk for additional information.
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I want to get married, does the Municipal Court handle weddings?

The Municipal Court Judge performs weddings at Bellingham Municipal Court. You need to make arrangements directly with the Judge by calling the court during business hours.

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When is my court date?

You can go to https://www.courts.wa.gov or call the court during business hours to find out your next court date.

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My bond has been forfeited. How can I get it back?

You need to call the bond agency.

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I didn't respond to my traffic ticket on time, now what?

When you have failed to respond within the proper time period, you have waived your opportunity for a hearing. In order to avoid the failure to respond fee and assignment to a collection agency, you must pay the monetary penalty. If you need payment arrangements, contact the clerk’s office immediately.

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How can I pay for my parking, traffic, or criminal citation?

Traffic and criminal tickets can be paid through the following methods: Parking tickets can be paid through the following methods: return to top of page

How do I get a deferral for a traffic violation?

A deferred finding may be requested in one of the following ways:
  • Court Hearing: Please check the "Mitigation" box on your citation and mail in the ticket. The court must receive your request within 15 days from the ticket issue date. You will receive a court hearing date and time by return mail. You may ask the judge at your court hearing for a deferred finding in your case.
  • By Mail: Request a court hearing as above. Print and complete the Request for and Deferred Order for Traffic Infractions Form (PDF) and mail it with your citation and check for the fine amount listed on the citation. If your deferred finding request is approved, you will receive a copy of the Court Order by return mail. If your deferred finding request is not approved, you will receive a court hearing date and time by return mail. Your payment will be held for you in the court trust account.
  • In Person: Request a court hearing as above. You will be given a copy of the deferred finding request form to complete and a receipt for the fine amount payment. If your deferred finding request is approved, you will receive a copy of the Court Order by return mail. If your deferred finding request is not approved, you will receive a court hearing date and time by return mail. Your payment will be held for you in the court trust account.
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How can I be prepared for court and what are the expectations?

  1. Know your case number:
    • Be sure to have your case number available; you will be asked for it every time you contact the court.
  2. Courtroom Etiquette:
    • Turn off all cell phones, pagers or electronic devices before entering the courtroom.
    • Throw away gum, food, and drinks before you enter the courtroom.
    • Do not smoke in court buildings.
    • Follow posted instructions.
    • Enter and leave the courtroom quietly, so you do not disturb others.
    • Stand when the judge or commissioner enters the courtroom.
    • Address the judge or commissioner as "Your Honor."
    • Listen carefully to what each person says in the courtroom and respond clearly since your words are being recorded
    • It is important to be clean and dress appropriately, to show respect for the court.
  3. Children in the courtroom:
    • Please try not to bring children to the courtroom, unless they have been ordered to be present. If you feel you have no other option, bring a responsible adult who is not part of the court proceedings to watch the children while you are in court.
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How can I request a police report?

If you have a pending matter and are represented, please contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney you may print a Request for Discovery (PDF). After you complete the Request for Discovery form it must be served on an employee of the City Attorney's Office, Criminal Division, (located on the first floor of the Municipal Court Building). If you do not have a pending matter, you may contact the Bellingham Police Department at (360) 778-8800.

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My tickets are in collections. What are my options and how can I contact them?

If your tickets are in collections, you may contact AllianceOne at (800) 456-8838. The Court can recall any debts that have been assigned to a AllianceOne under the following conditions:

  1. Payment in Full: Except as provided in paragraph 2, a defendant may pay the full amount of any delinquent debt(s) owing on one or more civil or criminal case(s), including fines, late fees, court costs, and other court-ordered obligations directly to the court. Payment must be made by cash only. Upon acceptance of payment, the clerk shall recall the matter(s) from collections and, for traffic related tickets, notify the Department of Licensing that the debt(s) has been paid. No person may utilize this incentive more than once per year without written permission from the Judge or Commissioner.
  2. Persons against whom the collection agency has initiated legal action to collect a delinquent debt owed to the court are not eligible to have debts recalled.

Parking ticket debts are not eligible to be restored. If you are unable to pay in full as noted above, please contact AllianceOne at (800) 456-8838 to arrange payments which, if needed, will provide for the release of the suspension order against your driver’s license.

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How can I reschedule my hearing?

Arraignments may be reset upon request at the clerk's window, at least one day prior to the scheduled arraignment and may be continued up to five court days. This does not apply to any cases pertaining to domestic violence, assault in the fourth degree, harassment, indecent exposure, driving under the influence or physical control. No other criminal hearings may be rescheduled. In the event of an emergency which prevents you from appearing, please contact the court during business hours. Traffic infraction or parking hearings may be rescheduled one time. You must contact the court before your hearing to avoid additional fees from failure to respond in a timely manner.

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What happens if I can't appear on my court date?

Failure to appear to a criminal court date may result in a warrant issued for your arrest. If you fail to appear to your traffic or parking hearing, your infraction will be found committed and you will be subject to late fees and selected for collections.

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What can I do if I have a warrant?

You must appear in court in person to quash (cancel) your warrant.   Warrant review hearings are held every Thursday and Friday at 10:30.  Your request to schedule a warrant review hearing may be made in person at the clerk's window or by calling the court at (360) 778-8150 between 9:00 - 12:00 and 1:00 - 4:00.  Your hearing must be scheduled at least two days prior to the hearing date.  Your bondsman will need to provide a letter of reinstatement if a bond has been forfeited or post a new bond or cash bail in the amount of the bail required by the court.

Appearing at the clerk's window  or writing/calling the court does not quash (cancel) your warrant.  Your warrant will remain active so you may be arrested at any time before your scheduled hearing.

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I am a victim of domestic violence, how do I contact an advocate?

The victim's advocate may be contacted by phone at (360) 778-8290 or in person at the City Attorney's Office, Criminal Division, located on the first floor of the Bellingham Municipal Court Building.

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How can I see the judge and what type of hearings can I request?

You may request a hearing for infractions and parking violations. Your request must be made within fifteen days or eighteen days if your ticket was mailed to you (on traffic infractions). You must return your copy of the ticket to the court via mail or in person. Please be sure to designate which hearing you are requesting by checking the appropriate box. A court date will then be assigned. You may also request an Online Mitigation Hearing for mitigated traffic infractions only. Please review the instructions carefully.

You may request review hearings for jail, community service, and restitution. In addition, you can appeal the court for a public defender. Such hearing requests can be made at the clerk's window to be heard on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays at on 9:45.

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The Department of Licensing is suspending my license. How can I get more information?

Contact Department of Licensing at (360) 902-3900 or go online to Washington State Department of Licensing at https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdreinstatements/ for more information.

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How can I find out if someone is in jail?

Contact the Whatcom County Jail at (360) 778-6500, or go online to Whatcom County Jail at http://apps2.whatcomcounty.us/onlineapps/jailrosters/roster/roster.jsp

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How can I get someone out of jail?

Contact the Whatcom County Jail at (360) 778-6500. If there is bail set, you must pay bail to the appropriate court or to the jail after court hours.

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What if I can't pay my fine all at once?

The court offers two payment options. You may pick up a packet at the clerk's window in the lobby of the Bellingham Municipal Court during business hours or review the court payment options and download the Infraction Payment Agreement (PDF) and Time-Payment Collection Application (PDF).

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Where do I go to do a DUI Victim Impact Panel?

You can go to the Whatcom County Health Department at 1500 N State St, Bellingham or contact them at (360) 778-6000. If you are on probation, you may contact your probation officer at (360) 778-5450.

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How do I schedule a jail tour?

Contact Whatcom County Jail Alternatives 360-676-6909

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What if I want to represent myself in court? What do I need to know?

The court always encourages defendants to be represented by an attorney. If you are not represented you may contact the City Attorney's Office, Criminal Division, to discuss your case. They are prosecuting your case and cannot provide legal advice nor can the clerks of the court.

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How can I request a no contact order be dropped?

You may request a No Contact Order rescission or modification hearing by completing the paperwork at the following locations:

  • If you are the defendant: Print a Request to Rescind or Modify No Contact Order (PDF) and submit at the clerk's window located at the Bellingham Municipal Court
  • If you are the defendant and have an attorney: Contact your attorney
  • If you are an alleged victim: Contact the victim's advocate at the City Attorney's Office at (360) 778-8290.
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How can I have a conviction vacated?

Go to https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=38. Print the first four documents (Motion and Declaration for Vacating Conviction, Notice of Hearing, Order on Motion Re: Vacating Conviction, and Vacation of Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor Conviction-Information Sheet) or obtain the forms from the cashier's window of the Bellingham Municipal Court. Follow the directions on the Information Sheet. The Motion to Vacate must be submitted to the court with a filing fee of $100. The court staff cannot assist you in completing the documents or provide any legal advice.

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How do I know what courtroom to go to?

Court hearing times and room numbers are located on the hearings board in the lobby of the Municipal Court. You may also check in with the clerks at the cashier's window.

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How do I file an appeal?

The final decision of a Municipal Court judge may be appealed in the following types of cases: Civil matters; criminal traffic or criminal non-traffic matters; and contested hearings on an infraction. A Notice of Appeal (PDF) must be filed with the Municipal Court within 30 days after the decision of the Municipal Court Judicial Officer.

You may print the Appeal Instructions (PDF) or pick up an Appeal Packet at the cashier's window of Municipal Court. The instructions are intended to give you an overview of the procedures to appeal your case. You could also consult the Rules for Appeal of Decisions of Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (RALJ). These govern the appeal process and can be found in the Whatcom County Law Library located in the County Courthouse.

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How do I apply for a public defender?

Anyone facing a criminal charge, in Bellingham Municipal Court, may apply for a public defender. The determination of eligibility is based upon several variables which may include income, public assistance, expenses, assets, as well as other criteria.

A Public Defender is available to you at your arraignment hearing. If you choose to seek the services of a Public Defender after arraignment, your Application for a Public Defender (PDF) must be screened at the cashier's window of Municipal Court during business hours.

Please bring the following items with you to the cashier's office:
  • Your court summons. This should show your case number, charge, next court date and type of hearing
  • Pay stubs from the last three months
  • Food stamp award letter
  • Financial aid award letter
  • SSI/SSD award letter
  • Proof of unemployment compensation

After screening your application the clerk will either: appoint you a public defender; ask you to provide more information; ask you to contribute a monetary amount towards defense costs; or deny you public defense services and inform you how to appeal their determination before a Judicial Officer.

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How do I subpoena the officer for my traffic infraction?

Officer Subpoena forms for contested infractions must be completed at the clerk's window of Municipal Court. The court clerk will date stamp and indicate the correct time and date for the officer to appear on the subpoena. Upon completion, the subpoena must be served on an employee of the City Attorney's Office, Criminal Division, (located on the first floor of the Municipal Court Building) no less than 7 days before your scheduled hearing. All subpoenas must comply with Local Rule 11(4)

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Why do I have to go through security?

The main objective of Court Security is to maintain a safe and secure environment. This procedure is done as a matter of safety. The security screening includes passing through a metal detector and all bags going through an x-ray machine. It is not meant to harass or exclude anyone. Cooperation is the key to maintain a secure atmosphere for everyone in the building.

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My car was towed by parking enforcement, now what?

Vehicles are towed when there are four or more outstanding tickets. Contact the towing company directly to redeem/claim the vehicle. Aside from the cost associated with claiming the vehicle, you will be responsible for arranging to pay the outstanding tickets. Failure to do so may subject you to another tow.

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I just received a disabled parking violation. What can I do?

If the vehicle cited is registered in your name and the disabled permit is issued in your name, your ticket will be dismissed if you provide the court with the following items WITHIN 15 DAYS from the date the ticket was issued:

  1. A signed and dated copy of the valid blue or red placard (the card placed on the rear view mirror) AND
  2. A signed and dated copy of the valid permit holder’s state-issued permit identification card (wallet-size).

If the vehicle cited is registered in your name and the disabled permit is not issued in your name, your ticket will be dismissed if you provide the court with the following items:

  1. A signed and dated copy of the valid blue or red placard (the card placed on the rear view mirror) AND
  2. A signed and dated copy of the valid permit holder’s state-issued permit identification card (wallet-size) AND
  3. A signed and dated note from the permit holder stating that you were transporting that person on the date/time that the ticket was issued.

If neither of the above descriptions fits your situation, either pay or request a hearing within 15 days from the date the ticket was issued.

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I just received a parking infraction for expired tabs. What can I do?

If you renewed your license registration BEFORE the date the parking ticket was issued, your ticket will be dismissed upon receipt of a copy of the registration document proving the registration date.

You must provide proof of registration WITHIN 15 DAYS from the date the ticket was issued.

  • Please be sure that your tab is affixed to your rear license plate, or you may receive a new ticket.
  • If your tab was lost or stolen, a replacement tab is available from the Department of Licensing, or an authorized registration agency.

If you renewed your license registration WITHIN 15 DAYS from the date the ticket was issued, your ticket will be reduced to $15 (the maximum mitigation reduction) upon receipt of a copy of the registration document proving the registration date AND your fine payment.

If neither of the above descriptions fits your situation, either pay or request a hearing within 15 days from the date the ticket was issued.

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I've been trying to pay my parking infraction online. Why won't it go through?

Tickets issued today will not be available to pay until the next business day. Please try submitting your payment the next day. Tickets that have been paid previously, or that have been assigned to a collection agency, will not be available online. Also, tickets issued to a VIN# rather than a plate are not available online. Please contact the court staff and they will be happy to identify the problem.

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How can I get a language interpreter?

The court is responsible for providing interpreters for court proceedings. If you or someone you know requires an interpreter for a pending case, please contact the court during business hours. For traffic infractions, please indicate what language you are requesting when submitting your hearing request.

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