Frequently Asked Questions
Often many citizens call into our office with questions regarding possible fraud of local businesses, divorce, traffic tickets, DUI records, and past crimes that need to be addressed. The City Attorney’s Office does not handle any of these situations. Please read below for common questions and ideas on where to search for help. The Office of the Attorney General, Washington State Bar Association, Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Yakima County Courthouse are some examples of other agencies that help in situations mentioned above.
Who does the City Attorney work for?
Under the City Charter the City Attorney is directly appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the City Manager. The primary role of the City Attorney is to provide legal representation to the City’s elected and appointed officials, the City Manager and the departments, boards and commissions of the City, as well as for managing the legal matters that involve the City government in its day-to-day operations, and for the prosecution of the misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes that occur within the City limits.
Can the City Attorney represent private citizens?
No. The office is not authorized to advise or represent private citizens on personal legal matters. If you need help with a personal legal matter such as filing a lawsuit, creating a will, or defending against a criminal charge, you may want to contact a private attorney. If you do not know an attorney in your area, the Washington State Bar Association’s website provides information on attorney referral services for persons of varying income levels. You may also contact the Washington State Bar by calling 1-800-945-WSBA (9722).
How can I get a copy of the Municipal Code or a City ordinance or Resolution?
The entire Municipal Code is available online on the City of Yakima website. If you have any questions on finding a particular code or City ordinance please contact the City Clerk at (509) 575-6000.
Where can I find a signed copy of an agreement, resolution or ordinance?
The Office of the City Clerk maintains records of official City documents. Copies of the City’s Agenda Packets, Minutes, Resolutions and Ordinances are available online on the City Clerk’s website or you may contact their office at (509) 575-6000.
How can I request a public record from the City of Yakima?
The Public Records Act Request Form can be used to make a written request for records. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to determine if such records exist in City files. The City will provide those documents to you, unless they are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act or another legal reason prevents the documents from being disclosed to the public. There may be a charge for copying. Public records may be requested online by accessing the link below. Alternatively, you may download the PDF form below to submit a written request.
Request Public Records Online
How do I file a claim with the City of Yakima?
The City has a standard claim form that can be used for your convenience. Completed claim forms must be filed with the Office of the City Clerk, located at City Hall, 129 North Second Street, Yakima, WA 98901. You may print this form or pick up a copy at the Office of the City Clerk.
I drove my car through a pothole in the street and sustained damage to my car. I feel the City was negligent. Will the City pay for this?
If you feel the City was negligent and you wish to pursue the matter, you must file a damage claim with the City of Yakima Clerk’s Office.
A City vehicle or work crew damaged my property. What can I do?
If you believe you have a valid claim against the City, you must file a damage claim with the City of Yakima Clerk’s Office.
My neighbor’s tree limbs and branches overhang my property. Can I trim them without my neighbor’s permission? If my neighbor’s tree limbs and branches fall on my property, can I make my neighbor clean them up?
This is a private civil matter. To obtain specific legal advice on your situation, you need to consult a private attorney
Who can I speak with regarding landlord tenant issues?
You can obtain information on landlord tenant issues through the Office of the Attorney General website.
How do I report a potential City of Yakima code violation?
You can obtain information on the City of Yakima’s website or you can contact the Code Administration Division at (509) 575-6126.
What kinds of cases does the Yakima City Prosecuting Attorney prosecute?
The Office of the Yakima City Prosecuting Attorney prosecutes violations of the Yakima Municipal Code including misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and civil infractions arising from traffic and non-traffic matters.
Felonies and most offenses committed by juveniles within the City of Yakima are prosecuted by the Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney.
Can a citizen receive legal advice from the Office of the Yakima City Prosecuting Attorney?
Can I drop the charges?
No. The City of Yakima has charged the defendant with a crime, not you. Although the decision to prosecute a case is made by this office, we do consider the wishes of victims when making that decision.
Will I have to testify?
If you are a victim or a witness of a crime, you may have to testify at trial. However, most cases are settled without trial.
How does the criminal justice process work?
When a crime is reported, the police are responsible for conducting an investigation. After completing the investigation, the police may charge an offender by issuing a criminal citation or they can submit a charging request to the prosecuting attorney.
If a charging request is submitted, the prosecuting attorney reviews the report and decides whether to charge an individual with a crime. A criminal case begins when a charging document is filed with the court. The document sets forth certain information about both the defendant and crime(s) that have been charged. In most cases this is the ticket issued by the officer.
If you are being held in jail, you will have a first appearance hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to advise you of the charge(s) against you and to consider issues related to pretrial release, including bond and No Contact Orders in domestic violence cases.
One of the first hearings in a criminal case is the arraignment. At the arraignment, the defendant is formally informed of the charge(s) against him or her and is asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The next hearing is the pre-trial conference. The purpose of this hearing is to make sure that everything is in order prior to going to trial. The parties may file motions and address any other issues. Additionally, this is the opportunity to make sure that discovery has been exchanged by both parties. The parties will determine if there will be a negotiated settlement or if the case will be set for trial. Most cases are settled at the pre-trial conference.
If the case is not settled it will be set for trial. The length of a criminal trial can vary depending upon the nature of the charges, the number of witnesses, and numerous other factors. Most trials in Municipal Court last less than three days. For misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, the jury is made up of six persons. In a criminal case, the jury must be unanimous in reaching a verdict.
I’ve been charged with a crime. Now what?
A person charged with a criminal offense has a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you can ask that a public defender be appointed to represent you. If you would like to have a public defender represent you, contact the Yakima Municipal Court Clerk’s Office at (509) 575-3050. You may also represent yourself. If you have an attorney, the prosecutor is required to talk to your attorney and is prohibited from discussing the case with you without your attorney present. You have the right to remain silent regarding the facts of your case. If you waive that right and talk about your case, the prosecutor may take note of what you say and use it against you later.