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What criminal cases does the KCPAO file?

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office files between 20-30 criminal cases each day.

The types of cases we file generally include murder, unlawful gun possession, commercial burglaries, residential burglary, assault, indecent liberties, rape, drug dealing, and domestic violence crimes, among others.


Here is a one-day example of the cases we filed from Jan. 26, 2022


About 80% of the crimes in Seattle are referred to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Our offices are separate, but we are in communication daily about cases and referrals from law enforcement.


The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office handles felony crimes county wide. We handle cases the same way in Seattle as we do in Bellevue, or Vashon Island, or Shoreline, or any part of King County.


We want people to see the full details of the cases we file because those cases cannot be summarized in a tweet or Facebook post. Before a case is filed, it is reviewed thoughtfully — and independently — by multiple prosecutors. That same thoughtful eye continues through the course of the case.


If the public saw each case we file individually, we believe there would be a better understanding of the types of cases we file, why we file them, and why we make bail requests in accordance with court rules.


Looking at each case individually paints a clearer picture of the reasoning and context for decisions. With each case that’s declined, we have a conversation with law enforcement about why it’s declined.

The most common reason is that we can’t prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a requirement statewide for filing a case. There are scenarios that happen often where we both believe and victim and have to decline a case because we do not have the evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s frustrating for all involved.

There also is some confusion around what cases are not referred to us by police. For example, drug possession and most shoplifting cases in Seattle go to City Attorney’s Office, which is separate from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Specific cities handle misdemeanor crime for municipal filings.


However, drug dealing cases and shoplifting cases that involve weapons are routinely filed by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office when a) those cases are referred by law enforcement and b) we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt. The below case summaries — which rarely make news headlines — explain the unique details of each case, and why they are filed.


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King County Prosecutor
Dan Satterberg
Read Dan's Biography


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