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Do police file charges in Seattle or King County?


Prosecutors file charges after an independent review of an investigation referred by police investigators.

Based on the details of the alleged crime, police refer cases to different offices. In Seattle, for example, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors are referred to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Felony crimes, such as murder, armed robbery, etc., are referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Some cases also can be referred by investigators to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution at the federal level. Referrals are decisions of law enforcement.

If a case is referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, but does not have the evidence to prove a felony crime, that case can be sent back to investigators for additional information. If additional information or evidence is not available, the case may be sent instead to municipal court if a case can be proved at the gross misdemeanor level.

Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to only file cases that they believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, prosecutors can’t simply charge a case an let a jury decide if they don’t believe the case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt under the law.

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King County Prosecutor
Leesa Manion (she/her)


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