Chapter 1.16
CIVIL INFRACTIONS

Sections:

1.16.010    Purpose.

1.16.020    Definitions.

1.16.030    Authorization – RCW Chapter 7.80.

1.16.040    Issuance of Process.

1.16.050    Notice of Infraction – Issuance, Service, Filing.

1.16.060    Person Receiving Notice – Identification.

1.16.070    Notice – Determination Final Unless Contested – Form.

1.16.080    Response to Notice – Contesting Determination – Mitigating Circumstances – Hearing – Failure to Respond or Appear.

1.16.090    Hearings – Rules of Procedure – Counsel.

1.16.100    Hearings – Contesting Determination that Infraction Committed – Appeal.

1.16.110    Hearings – Explanation of Mitigating Circumstances.

1.16.120    Monetary Penalties – Restitution.

1.16.130    Order of Court – Civil Nature – Modification of Penalty – Community Service.

1.16.140    Costs and Attorney Fees.

1.16.150    Notices – Record of – Cancellation Prohibited, Penalty – Audit.

1.16.160    Notice, Failure to Sign, Nonappearance – Failure to Satisfy Penalty.

1.16.170    Headings Not Part of Law.

1.16.180    Severability.

1.16.010 Purpose.

It is imperative that certain Pierce County Code provisions, permits and permit conditions, and Hearing Examiner decisions are properly enforced. To better accomplish this goal, Pierce County has designated certain violations of the Pierce County Code, permits and permit conditions, and Hearing Examiner decisions to be civil infractions pursuant to Chapter 7.80 RCW. The purpose of this Chapter is remedial. Use of the civil infraction procedure, as set forth in this Chapter, will better protect the public from the harmful effects of certain violations of the Pierce County Code, permits and permit conditions, and Hearing Examiner decisions, will aid and streamline enforcement, and will partially reimburse the County for the expenses of enforcement and the related judicial process. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.020 Definitions.

The definitions set forth in this Section shall apply throughout this Chapter:

A.    "Civil Infraction" shall mean a violation of the Pierce County Code, permit or permit conditions, or Hearing Examiner decision for which a monetary penalty may be imposed under this Chapter. Each day or portion thereof during which a violation occurs or exists shall be deemed a separate civil infraction. Traffic and vehicle violations pursuant to Title 10 of the Pierce County Code are specifically excluded from the application of this Chapter.

B.    "Code" shall mean any provision of the Pierce County Code.

C.    "County" shall mean Pierce County.

D.    "Court" shall mean the Pierce County District Court.

E.    "Department" shall mean all Pierce County departments created pursuant § 2.20(1)(c) of the Pierce County Charter PROVIDED; "Department" shall mean departments, agencies, or societies created pursuant to an interlocal agreement only if such interlocal agreement provides the department, agency, or society with the authority to issue civil infractions pursuant to this Chapter.

F.    "Enforcement Officer" shall mean any person authorized by the director of any department to enforce the provisions of the Code, permit and permit conditions, Hearing Examiner decisions or ordinance in which the civil infraction is established, but shall not include private citizens.

G.    "Hearing Examiner Decision" shall mean any report and decision, interim order or decision, or decision on reconsideration issued by the Pierce County Hearing Examiner pursuant to the Pierce County Code.

H.    "May" shall mean optional and permissive and does not impose a requirement.

I.    "Permit or Permit Conditions" shall mean an official authorization, license, document, certificate, or other written permission or conditions attached thereto given to a person by any Pierce County Department or by the Pierce County Hearing Examiner authorizing any person to perform a specified activity.

J.    "Person" shall mean an individual, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity.

K.    "Prosecuting Attorney" shall mean the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney or Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.

L.    "Shall" means mandatory and imposes a requirement.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.030 Authorization – RCW Chapter 7.80.

This Chapter is adopted pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 7.80 RCW as now enacted or hereafter amended. Nothing contained herein is in any way intended to diminish or limit the powers granted to County public officials through application of Chapter 7.80 RCW. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.040 Issuance of Process.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law governing service of process in civil cases, a court of limited jurisdiction having jurisdiction over an alleged civil infraction may issue process anywhere within Washington State. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.050 Notice of Infraction – Issuance, Service, Filing.

A.    A civil infraction proceeding is initiated by the issuance, service, and filing of a notice of civil infraction.

B.    A notice of civil infraction may be served and issued by an Enforcement Officer when the civil infraction occurs in the Enforcement Officer’s presence.

C.    A court may issue a notice of civil infraction if an Enforcement Officer files a notice of civil infraction with the court stating that the civil infraction was committed in the Enforcement Officer’s presence or that the Enforcement Officer has reasonable cause to believe that a civil infraction was committed.

D.    Service of a notice of civil infraction issued under subsection B. or C. of this Section shall be as provided by court rule. Until such a rule is adopted, service shall be provided as in Justice Court Traffic Infraction Rules (JTIR) 2.2(c)(1) and (3), as applicable.

E.    A notice of civil infraction, if issued under subsection B. of this Section, shall be filed with the court within forty-eight hours of issuance, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. A notice of civil infraction not filed within the time limits prescribed in this Section may be dismissed without prejudice.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.060 Person Receiving Notice – Identification.

A person who is issued a notice of civil infraction under Section 1.16.050 is required to identify himself or herself to the Enforcement Officer by giving his or her name, address, and date of birth. Upon request of the Enforcement Officer, the person shall produce reasonable identification, such as a driver’s license or identicard. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.070 Notice – Determination Final Unless Contested – Form.

A.    The filing of a notice of civil infraction with the court represents a determination that a civil infraction has been committed. The determination is final unless contested as provided for in this Chapter.

B.    The form for the notice of civil infraction may be as prescribed by rule of the Washington Supreme Court and, in addition, shall include the following:

1.    A statement that the notice of civil infraction represents a determination that a civil infraction has been committed by the person named in the notice and that the determination is final unless contested as provided for in this Chapter;

2.    A statement that a civil infraction is a noncriminal offense for which imprisonment may not be imposed as a sanction;

3.    A statement or description of the specific civil infraction for which the notice was issued and a reference to the Code provision(s), permit or permit conditions, or Hearing Examiner decision that has been violated;

4.    A statement of the monetary penalty established for the civil infraction committed;

5.    A statement of the options provided for in this Chapter for responding to the notice of civil infraction and the procedures necessary to exercise these options;

6.    A statement that at any hearing to contest the determination of the County, the County has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the civil infraction was committed and that the person may subpoena witnesses including the Enforcement Officer who issued the notice of civil infraction;

7.    A statement that at any hearing requested for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances surrounding the commission of the civil infraction, the person shall be deemed to have committed the civil infraction and may not subpoena witnesses;

8.    A statement that the person must respond to the notice as provided for in this Chapter within 15 days;

9.    A statement that failure to respond to the notice of civil infraction or failure to appear at a hearing requested for the purpose of contesting the determination or for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances will result in a default judgment against the person in the amount of the penalty, with statutory assessment, and that this failure may be referred to the Prosecuting Attorney for criminal prosecution for failure to respond or appear;

10.    A statement that failure to respond to the notice of civil infraction or failure to appear at a hearing requested for the purpose of contesting the determination or for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances will result in the imposition of a penalty in the amount of $25.00 plus statutory assessments;

11.    A statement, which the person shall sign, that the person promises to respond to the notice of civil infraction in one of the ways provided for in this Chapter;

12.    A statement that failure to respond to a notice of civil infraction as promised or to appear at a requested hearing is a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine or imprisonment in jail or both;

13.    A statement that all information upon which the notice of civil infraction is based shall be provided upon written request to the Enforcement Officer who issued the notice of civil infraction.

C.    The District Court No. One Administrator shall assist in developing the notice of civil infraction citation format.

(Ord. 99-34 § 1 (part), 1999; Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.080 Response to Notice – Contesting Determination – Mitigating Circumstances – Hearing – Failure to Respond or Appear.

A.    Any person who receives a notice of civil infraction shall respond to such notice as provided for in this Section within 15 days of the date of the notice.

B.    If the person determined to have committed the civil infraction does not contest the determination, the person shall respond by completing the appropriate portion of the notice of civil infraction and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the court specified on the notice. A check or money order in the amount of the civil penalty prescribed for the civil infraction must be submitted with the response. The clerk of a court may accept cash as payment for a civil infraction. When a response which does not contest the determination is received, an appropriate order shall be entered in the court’s records.

C.    If the person determined to have committed the civil infraction does contest the determination, the person shall respond by completing that portion of the notice of civil infraction requesting a hearing and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the court specified on the notice. The court shall notify the person in writing of the time, place, and date of the hearing, and that date shall not be earlier than 14 days nor more than 90 days from the date of the notice of hearing.

D.    If the person determined to have committed the civil infraction does not contest the determination but wishes to explain mitigating circumstances surrounding the infraction, the person shall respond by completing that portion of the notice of civil infraction requesting a hearing for that purpose and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the court specified on the notice. The court shall notify the person in writing of the time, place, and date of the hearing, and that date shall not be earlier than 14 days nor more than 90 days from the date of the notice of hearing.

E.    The court may notify the Prosecuting Attorney of the failure to respond to the notice of civil infraction, or to appear at a requested hearing, or to comply with a court order and shall enter a default judgment as provided for in this Section assessing the monetary penalty prescribed for the civil infraction, with statutory assessment, if any person issued a notice of civil infraction fails to:

1.    Respond to the notice of civil infraction as provided in subsection B. of this Section; or

2.    Appear at a hearing requested pursuant to subsection C. or D. of this Section; or

3.    Comply with a court order.

F.    If any person issued a notice of civil infraction fails to respond to the notice of civil infraction as provided in subsection B. above or fails to appear at a hearing requested under subsection C. or D. above, a monetary penalty in the amount of $25.00 plus statutory assessments shall be imposed.

(Ord. 99-34 § 1 (part), 1999; Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.090 Hearings – Rules of Procedure – Counsel.

A.    Procedures for the conduct of all hearings provided in this Chapter may be as established by rule of the Washington Supreme Court.

B.    Any person subject to proceedings under this Chapter may be represented by legal counsel.

C.    The attorney representing the County may appear in any proceedings under this Chapter but need not appear, notwithstanding any statute or rule of court to the contrary.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.100 Hearings – Contesting Determination that Infraction Committed – Appeal.

A.    A hearing held for the purpose of contesting the determination that a civil infraction has been committed shall be without a jury and shall be recorded in the manner provided for in courts of limited jurisdiction.

B.    In lieu of the Enforcement Officer’s personal appearance at the hearing, the court may consider the notice of civil infraction and any other written report as long as the report is made under oath, submitted by the Enforcement Officer who issued the notice or who filed the notice of civil infraction was the basis for the issuance of the notice. The person named in the notice of civil infraction may request the court for issuance of subpoena of witnesses, including the Enforcement Officer who issued the notice, and has the right to present evidence and examine witnesses present in court.

C.    The burden of proof is upon the County to establish the commission of the civil infraction by a preponderance of the evidence.

D.    After consideration of the evidence and argument, the court shall determine whether the civil infraction was committed. Where it has not been established by a preponderance of the evidence that the civil infraction was committed, an order dismissing the notice of civil infraction shall be entered in the court’s records. Where it has been established by a preponderance of the evidence that the civil infraction was committed, an appropriate order shall be entered in the court’s records.

E.    An appeal from the court’s determination or order shall be to the Superior Court in the manner provided by the Rules for Appeal of Decisions of Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. The decision of the Superior Court is subject only to discretionary review pursuant to the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.110 Hearings – Explanation of Mitigating Circumstances.

A.    A hearing held for the purpose of allowing a person to explain mitigating circumstances surrounding the commission of a civil infraction shall be an informal proceeding. The person shall not be allowed to subpoena witnesses. At a hearing held for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances, the court shall not allow the determination that a civil infraction has been committed to be contested.

B.    After the court has heard the explanation of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the civil infraction, an appropriate order shall be entered in the court’s records.

C.    There is no appeal from the court’s determination or order under this Section.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.120 Monetary Penalties – Restitution.

Each day or portion thereof during which a violation occurs or exists shall be deemed a separate civil infraction.

A.    A person found to have committed a civil infraction shall be assessed a monetary penalty.

1.    The maximum penalty and the default amount for a Class 1 civil infraction shall be $600.00, not including statutory assessments;

2.    The maximum penalty and the default amount for a Class 2 civil infraction shall be $300.00, not including statutory assessments;

3.    The maximum penalty and the default amount for a Class 3 civil infraction shall be $120.00, not including statutory assessments; and

4.    The maximum penalty and the default amount for a Class 4 civil infraction shall be $60.00, not including statutory assessments.

B.    The court may consider dismissing with costs only upon a showing that the violation was corrected within 30 days.

C.    Whenever a monetary penalty is imposed by a court under this Chapter it is immediately payable. If the person is unable to pay at that time, the court may grant an extension. If the penalty is not paid on or before the time established for payment, the court may proceed to collect the penalty in the same manner as other civil judgments and may notify the Prosecuting Attorney of the failure to pay.

D.    Payment of a monetary penalty or performance of the required community service shall not relieve a person of the duty to correct the violation.

E.    The court may also order a person found to have committed a civil infraction to make restitution.

(Ord. 2007-33 § 1, 2007; Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.130 Order of Court – Civil Nature – Modification of Penalty – Community Service.

A.    An order entered after the receipt of a response which does not contest the determination, or after it has been established at a hearing that the civil infraction was committed, or after a hearing for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances is civil in nature.

B.    The court may waive, reduce, or suspend the monetary penalty prescribed for the civil infraction. If the court determines that a person has insufficient funds to pay the monetary penalty, the court may order performance of a number of hours of community service in lieu of a monetary penalty, at the rate of the current Washington State minimum wage per hour.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.140 Costs and Attorney Fees.

Each party to a civil infraction case is responsible for costs incurred by that party, but the court may assess witness fees, including expert witness fees, against a nonprevailing respondent. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.150 Notices – Record of – Cancellation Prohibited, Penalty.

A.    Every department authorized to issue notices of civil infractions shall provide, in appropriate form, notices of civil infractions which shall be issued in books with notices in quadruplicate.

B.    The director of each department shall be responsible for the issuance of such books and shall maintain a record of every such book and each notice contained therein issued to Enforcement Officers of the department and shall require and retain a receipt for every book so issued. Every Enforcement Officer, upon issuing a notice of civil infraction to an alleged perpetrator of a civil infraction, shall deposit the original notice of civil infraction with the court as provided in Section 1.16.050.

C.    Upon the deposit of the original notice of civil infraction with the court, the original or copy may be disposed of only as provided in this Chapter.

D.    It is official misconduct for any Enforcement Officer or Pierce County employee to dispose of a notice of civil infraction or copies thereof or of the record of the issuance thereof in a manner other than as required in this Section.

E.    The director of every department authorized to issue notices of civil infraction shall require the return to him or her of a copy of every notice issued by an Enforcement Officer under his or her supervision to an alleged perpetrator of a civil infraction and of all copies of every notice which has been issued to an alleged perpetrator.

F.    Such director shall also maintain or cause to be maintained in connection with every notice issued by an Enforcement Officer under his or her supervision, a record of the disposition of the charge by the court in which the original notice of civil infraction was deposited.

G.    Any person who cancels or solicits the cancellation of any notice of civil infraction, in any manner other than as provided for in this Section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.160 Notice, Failure to Sign, Nonappearance – Failure to Satisfy Penalty.

A.    A person who fails to sign a notice of civil infraction is guilty of a misdemeanor.

B.    Any person willfully violating his or her written and signed promise to respond to a notice of civil infraction is guilty of a misdemeanor, regardless of the disposition of the notice of civil infraction; PROVIDED, that a written promise to appear in court or a written promise to respond to a notice of civil infraction may be complied with by an appearance by counsel.

C.    A person who willfully fails to pay a monetary penalty, restitution, or perform community service as required by a court under this Chapter may be found in contempt of court as provided in Chapter 7.21 RCW.

(Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.170 Headings Not Part of Law.

Headings and captions used in this Chapter are not any part of the law. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)

1.16.180 Severability.

If any provision of this Chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Chapter or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected. (Ord. 91-187 § 1 (part), 1992)