Frequently Asked Questions
What is my public defender's phone number, email address or physical address?
The following public defenders work as staff for the Office of Public Defense and have offices here at the courthouse:  Michael Vander Sys, Caleb DiPeso and Katherine Bohnet.   All other public defenders are contractors.  Please see our public defender directory for their phone numbers and email addresses.  We leave it up to your public defender to tell you their physical address (since most of them are contractors) or other place they want to meet with you for consultations.

How do I pay my fines or what should I do if I can't pay them?

Fines are paid directly to the court that ordered them (Superior Court Clerk's Office in the case of Superior Court fines).  Contact them directly to make arrangements to change your monthly payments or to discuss your inability to pay.  OPD only gets involved once your failure to pay has placed you in jeopardy of going to jail (and you are therefore appointed a public defender to represent you). 
Benton County District Court (509) 735-8476
Benton County Superior Court Clerk's Office (509) 735-8388

I have a warrant for my arrest.  What should I do?

It depends on what your warrant is for.

Benton County Superior Court
If your warrant is for missing a court date in Superior Court, then you should contact your public defender immediately.  If you missed court because of a legitimate emergency, then you should provide that documentation to your public defender so he/she can request that the warrant be quashed.  If your public defender is unable to have your warrant quashed then you will have to turn yourself in.

If your warrant is for a new criminal charge, then you will need to turn yourself in.

Benton County District Court
If your warrant is for missing a court date in Benton County District Court, then you may request a warrant quash hearing unless you've previously already had a warrant quashed in your case.  In order to request a warrant quash hearing, you will have to contact Benton County District Court and pre-pay a $100 "warrant fee" to District Court.  You may pay the fee yourself or arrange for someone else to come in to District Court and pay it on your behalf.

How do I turn myself in?
The Benton County Jail accepts people turning themselves in for warrants in the jail lobby.  Since the jail is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, we highly recommend that you avoid turning yourself in at the end of the week (since it often means you must stay the entire weekend before you get the chance to see a judge) or at the beginning of the week (when you may spend more than normal time in booking because of all the people arrested over the weekend).  Instead, we recommend that you choose a day in the middle of the week and call ahead to make sure the process runs smoothly.  Benton County Jail: (509) 783-1451

How can I get a public defender?

Public defenders are only appointed by a judge, in court, after a determination is made that you qualify for such an attorney.  If you haven't been to court yet, you will have the opportunity to request a Public Defender at your arraignment.  If you have already been to court, declined a public defender and want to change your mind, you can do so at your next court appearance.  None of the BCOPD attorneys are able to meet with you to discuss your case before you are appointed a public defender.

What do I do if I can't reach my public defender?

Please be patient as you wait for your public defender to get back to you.  They have busy caseloads and spend time in court many days of the week.  If, after multiple messages and/or over a week they haven't gotten back to you, please send us an email to let us know and we can help you make sure that your public defender contacts you. 

I want to fire my public defender.  How do I do that?

You are always free to "fire" your public defender.  However, doing so may mean that you will have to defend your case on your own (ie "pro se").  Only the court that appointed your public defender is able to appoint a different public defender to represent you.  To make this happen you will have to explain at your next court appearance why you think it is necessary.  Please note that our courts rarely do this and if they do, it may cause significant delays in your case.

I want to file a complaint against my public defender. 

Please see the Complaints Page for details on how to file a complaint.

How do I get a sentence review hearing?

Sentence review hearings can only be granted by the court that sentenced you.  Generally these are not granted except with very good cause.  Your best bet is to contact the court directly in writing, and state very specifically the reason for wanting a sentence review hearing (including any support documents if applicable):

Benton County Superior Court
7122 W Okanogan Pl, Bldg A
Kennewick, WA 99336

Benton County District Court
7122 W Okanogan Pl, Bldg A
Kennewick, WA 99336

I pled guilty but want to change my mind.  What should I do?

Most of the time after you've pled guilty you will not be able to withdraw your plea.  However under certain, very limited circumstances, you may have a legal argument for doing so.  Please note that even when you have a legal argument for doing so, the judge may not grant your request, and if your plea is withdrawn, most likely any deals you've made with the prosecutor are going to be withdrawn and you stand the risk of being worse off.  You will need to discuss this with your public defender to see if this is a possibility and if so, whether it is the best course of action for your case.

Is my friend/family member in jail?

Benton County posts the jail register on their website and you will be able to check the register 24 hours a day to see if they are in jail.

Follow this link (and click on "Daily Inmate Roster") to access Benton County's register.

I have a civil case (small claim, landlord-tenant, divorce etc) and need an attorney
The attorneys at BCOPD are not legally able to help you with civil cases (other than civil contempt cases where you might end up going to jail).  If you are indigent and not able to pay any part of an attorney's fees, contact Legal Aid or NorthWest Justice Project for help.  For low cost help with your divorce paperwork, you may wish to use the services of the Family Court Facilitator.  In order to do so, you will need to come to the courthouse, make an appointment with the Superior Court Clerk's Office and pay a small fee ($25).  Court Facilitators are available in Benton County.

Where is the meeting room for interviews with BCOPD Staff Attorneys?

Please see our map for directions to our office.  Please note that this meeting room is only for client meetings if you are assigned one of our Staff Attorneys as your public defender (only for select Benton County District and Superior Court cases).

Where do I meet with a public defender for Benton County District Court Non-Compliance cases?

A public defender is available to meet with you to discuss your Benton County District Court non-compliance case every Monday at 11:00 am in the BCOPD interview room (located at the far end of the District Court hallway in the Kennewick Justice Center).

How do I vacate or seal my criminal history?

This office does not assist people in vacating or sealing their criminal histories.  You will have to hire a private lawyer to help you do this or do it yourself.  The Washington State Courts system publishes a guide to help you understand the laws about vacating/sealing criminal history if you decide to try to do this yourself.

    Benton County    620 Market Street    Prosser, Washington 99350
    Phone: (509) 786-5710 or (509) 783-1310
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