Tacoma Municipal Court

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2015 | Criminal Defense


Tacoma Municipal Court Judges hear criminal, criminal traffic, and infraction cases. A misdemeanor is often regarded as a minor criminal offense. A simple misdemeanor carries penalties of up to 90 days in custody and a fine of up to $1,000.00. RCW 9A.20.021. A gross misdemeanor is a more serious offense and carries up to 364 days in custody and a $5,000.00 fine. Crimes like DUI have mandatory jail sentences and potential driver license suspension. RCW 46.61.5055. An infraction can include anything from speeding with a modest fine, to Negligent Driving 2 with a fine of $550.

Criminal and traffic cases heard in Tacoma Municipal Court begin with an investigation by a Tacoma Police Officer.  Once the investigation is done, the officer either issues a citation, or prepares and forwards to the Tacoma City Attorney a Tacoma Police report. An Assistant City Attorney then reviews the report and decides whether to charge a crime. Assistant City Attorneys in Tacoma Municipal also prosecute traffic infractions like speeding tickets, overweight violations, etc.

Tacoma Municipal Court Judges

Tacoma Municipal Court currently has three elected judges and 2 Commissioners. Their names and background information are as follows:

  • Judge David B. Ladenburg – Tacoma City Attorney/Prosecutor.
  • Judge Elizabeth E. Verhey – Presiding Judge, DUI/Criminal Traffic Judge.
  • Judge Drew Ann Henke – Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor.
  • Commissioner Dennis Ball – Currently Hears infractions and conducts some Arraignments.
  • Commissioner Randy Hanson – Currently Hears infractions.

Criminal Cases

  • Tacoma Reckless Endangerment – A person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he or she recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person. Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor. 9A.36.050. Frequently charged in driving cases.
  • Tacoma Brandishing – It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons. Any person violating the provisions of subsection (1) above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. If any person is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the person shall lose his or her concealed pistol license, if any. There are exceptions for home and business, law enforcement, self-defense, and military service. RCW 9.41.270. Pocket knives and handguns are the most common weapons.
  • Tacoma Criminal Trespass – A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a gross misdemeanor. 9A.52.070. A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree. Criminal trespass in the second degree is a misdemeanor. 9A.52.080. Defenses:  A building involved in an offense under RCW 9A.52.070 was abandoned; or The premises were at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises; or The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the premises, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him or her to enter or remain; or The actor was attempting to serve legal process… 9A.52.090.
  • Tacoma Assault – A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree if, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault, he or she assaults another. Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor. 9A.36.041. If the assault is against a family member, former spouse or significant other, or parent of child in common, the City will also add the Domestic Violence aggravator.
  • Tacoma Harassment – A person is guilty of harassment if: Without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens: to cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or to cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or to subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or Maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety; and The person by words or conduct places the person threatened in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. “Words or conduct” includes, in addition to any other form of communication or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication. A person who harasses another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. 9A.46.020. If the Harassment is against a family member, former spouse or significant other, or parent of child in common, the City will also add the Domestic Violence aggravator.
  • Tacoma VPO/VNCO  Whenever an order is granted under this chapter, chapter, or there is a valid foreign protection order as defined in RCW 26.52.020, and the respondent or person to be restrained knows of the order, a violation of any of the following provisions of the order is a gross misdemeanor… RCW 26.50.110.
  • Tacoma Shoplifting/Theft 3 – A person is guilty of theft in the third degree if he or she commits theft of property or services which (a) does not exceed seven hundred fifty dollars in value, or (b) includes ten or more merchandise pallets, or ten or more beverage crates, or a combination of ten or more merchandise pallets and beverage crates. Theft in the third degree is a gross misdemeanor. 9A.56.050.
  • Tacoma Disorderly Conduct – A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if the person: Uses abusive language and thereby intentionally creates a risk of assault; Intentionally disrupts any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority; Intentionally obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority; or Intentionally engages in fighting or in tumultuous conduct or makes unreasonable noise, within five hundred feet of…funeral activities.

Tacoma Traffic Matters

  • Tacoma Traffic Tickets – Speeding, Speed Unsafe for Conditions, Following Too Closely, Negligent Driving in the Second Degree, Red Light Tickets, CDL Matters, Overweight Tickets, Log Violations.
  • Tacoma DUI
  • Tacoma BUI
  • Tacoma Reckless Driving
  • Tacoma Negligent Driving
  • Tacoma Hit and Run

Tacoma Municipal Court matters are heard in the Municipal Courtrooms on the first and second floors of the City/County Building at 930 Tacoma Avenue South in downtown Tacoma. Domestic Violence offenses are handled in Room 235 while DUI and other criminal traffic cases are heard in room 234.