Pretrial Release | Washington


State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including citations, release eligibility, conditions of release, commercial bail bonding, victims’ rights and diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts.

Below is a synopsis of this state’s pretrial release laws as of March 2013 and any relevant legislative reports or audits. Recent enactments modifying these provisions can be found in NCSL’s pretrial enactments database.


Citation in Lieu of Arrest

Issuing a citation is not presumptive, however a citation can be issued for misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors committed in the presence of an officer except for offenses enumerated in § 10.31.100. Citations can be issued at any time during the arrest process by police officers. (CrRLJ 2.1)

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State constitution provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses, and offenses punishable by life in prison. (Const. art. 1 § 20)

Guidance for Setting Release Conditions

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release on personal recognizance. Law requires the least restrictive conditions be imposed. (§ 10.19 superseded in part by CrR 3.2(a) & (b))

Pretrial Release Conditions

Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any defendant eligible for pretrial release. (§ 10.19 superseded in part by Cr. R., Rule 3.2)

Pretrial Detention

Defendants charged with capital offenses or offenses punishable by life require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held, addresses detainment of the defendant pending the outcome of the hearing and enumerates rights of the defendant. (§ 10.21.040; § 10.21.060)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

The Department of Licensing regulates bail bond agents. To be licensed, applicants must meet age, residency and prelicense education requirements. Any criminal conviction within the past 10 years can cause their license to be denied or revoked if the director of the Department of Licensing determines the particular crime directly relates to a capacity to perform the duties of a bail bond agent. (§ 18.185.020)

Bail Forfeiture Procedure

After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 60 days to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. (§ 10.19.100; § 10.19.140)

Recovery Agents

Recovery agents are overseen by the same regulatory authority as bail agents and are subject to more licensing requirements. Associations with bail agents must be disclosed, and recovery agents are required to wear identifying clothing and follow set guidelines when making arrests on private property. (§ 18.185.250; § 18.185.300; § 18.185.280)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

Victims have the right to notification of, to attend and to be heard at the pretrial release hearing.  Victims also have a right to notification of pretrial release. Pretrial release hearings are required for class A and B felonies. Electronic monitoring can be ordered for domestic violence offenses; sex offenses or an attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit a sex offense enumerated in § 99.94A.030(46); and for communication with a minor for immoral purposes. If a bail bond is forfeited, the funds can be applied to a fund that supports local victim and witness programs upon the defendant’s conviction. (Const. art. 1, § 35; § 10.19.055; § 10.99.040; § 7.90.150; § 7.68.035)

Pretrial Diversion

Diversion programs authorized include: substance abuse, mental health and domestic relations programs and problem-solving courts. (§ 10.05; § 2.28.170 to 190; § 26.12.250)


Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.