NATURE OF TRAFFIC PROCEEDINGS AND DEFENDANTS' RIGHTS IN THE SWINOMISH TRIBAL COURT
The issuance of your Notice of Infraction (commonly called a citation) is a determination that you have committed the infraction. You have fifteen days from issuance or receipt of your citation to pay the fine in full, make suitable payment arrangements by contacting the Office of Court Clerk, or request a hearing.
PAYMENT OF FINES
The Swinomish Tribal Court accepts cash in person, personal checks, or money orders in person or by mail.
Make checks payable to: Swinomish Tribal Court
Mail payments to: Swinomish Tribal Court, 17337 Reservation Rd, La Conner, WA, 98257
To make payment arrangements: Call (360) 466.2097 or (360) 466.7217, or simply stop by the Clerk Office.
To pay by debit or credit card: We are pleased to offer a method to process debit or credit card payments as of May 11, 2016. For now if you wish to pay online with debit or credit card, clients will need to call or stop by the Clerk Office, but we are working to streamline the process.
SELECTING THE RIGHT HEARING TYPE
There are three traffic hearing types:
Mitigation Hearing - Held to explain the circumstances surrounding the commission of the infraction.
Mitigation Hearing (by mail) - The same as mitigation, except by filing a Defendant Statement there is no need to personally appear in court.
Contested Hearing - Held when the alleged violator believes he/she did not commit the infraction.
The following information explains the nature of these three hearings in more detail along with your rights and responsibilities.
MITIGATION HEARING (STC 5-01.170)
The Swinomish Tribal Court must receive your request for a hearing to mitigate (explain the circumstances) your traffic infraction.
Your case cannot be dismissed if you request a mitigation hearing. You must appear in court on the date and time indicated on the enclosed hearing notice unless you wish to have your hearing by mail. [See information on Mail Mitigation below.]
A mitigation hearing allows you to explain the circumstances of the infraction, but you may not argue that you did not commit the infraction. The mitigation hearing is an informal proceeding. An attorney may represent you at your own expense. You may have witnesses attend the hearing, but the court will not compel witnesses to attend. After the Court has heard the explanation of the circumstances, the Court will determine whether the explanation of events justifies reducing the amount of the fine. The Court will enter an appropriate order, which may include ordering payment of the fine, suspending part or the entire fine, or ordering payments over time. There is no right to appeal the Court's order.
CIVIL TRAFFIC MITIGATION HEARING BY MAIL
Instead of appearing in court on the date and time scheduled on your hearing notice you have the option of a mitigation hearing by mail. If you decide to proceed with a hearing by mail, you will not be required to appear in court. Instead you must complete the Defendant's Statement and mail it or hand deliver it to the clerk of the court five (5) days prior to your hearing. Also, if you were charged with No Proof of Insurance under STC 5-01.380, AND you have proof that you were properly insured on the date and at the time of the violation, please include a copy of that proof along with your declaration. On the date of your scheduled hearing, the court will review your declaration and the police officer's sworn statement and render a decision. The penalty will be based on the facts of the case and your driving record. You agree to pay the court-ordered penalty within the specified time ordered by the judge. You will be notified by mail of the judge's decision.
In order to take advantage of mitigation by mail you will need to download the Defendant Statement form below, and return the statement, along with any supporting evidence or documentation you feel is necessary:
CONTESTED HEARING (STC 5-01.160)
A contested hearing allows you to argue that you did not commit the traffic infraction. The proceeding will be heard by the Tribal Court without a jury. The Tribe and the person requesting the hearing may both be represented by Counsel at their own expense. The Tribe and the person requesting the hearing may have witnesses subpoenaed to be compelled to testify. If you wish to have the court subpoena a witness, you must apply to the court in person at least 14 days prior to the hearing. You will be responsible for having witnesses served with the subpoena. Subpoena shall be served at least 7 days before the hearing. The burden of proof is on the Tribe to establish the commission of the infraction by a preponderance of the evidence. After consideration of the evidence and argument, the Court shall determine whether the infraction was committed. Where the Tribe does not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that an infraction has been committed, the Court shall enter an order dismissing the action. Where the Tribe establishes that an infraction has been committed, the Court shall enter an appropriate order. The Swinomish Rules of Appellate Procedure shall govern any appeal.
IMPORTANT WARNING: If you fail to appear for your hearing, or the court does not receive your mailed declaration at least five (5) days prior to the hearing date, the infraction will be found to have been committed, you will be assessed the full monetary penalty authorized by law and a $25 default penalty will be added for your failure to appear/provide declaration.