Washington Misdemeanors and Felonies
Washington state crimes are enumerated in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). These codes define what a crime is and, in many cases, provide sentencing guidelines for their punishment. Crimes are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors, which are the less serious offenses, are then divided into simple misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. Misdemeanor cases are heard in District and Municipal Courts. Felonies are categorized into classes A, B, or C in descending order of seriousness. Felony cases are heard in Superior Court.
A misdemeanor is often regarded as a minor criminal offense. Examples of simple misdemeanors are simple possession of marijuana, shoplifting, and disorderly conduct. A simple misdemeanor carries penalties of up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. A gross misdemeanor is a more serious offense. Driving while under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs as a first offense is a gross misdemeanor. These offenses carry penalties of up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000. Some misdemeanors carry mandatory sentencing per the RCW. Penalties often depend on the nature of the offense, any aggravating factors involved, and the prior criminal history of the offender.
Felony crimes are much more serious than misdemeanors and include such offenses as rape, armed robbery, burglary, and sales or distribution of illegal drugs. Class A felonies, which are the most serious, are punishable by prison sentences which can include life, as well as fines of up to $50,000. Class B felonies carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000. Class C felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Felony crimes are further classified by their seriousness in a complicated system under Washington State sentencing guidelines. Fifteen seriousness levels exist from Level I to Level XV which carry corresponding sentencing ranges for each level. Furthermore, pre-sentencing reports are typically called for by judges which will be considered in sentencing. These reports will contain such information as criminal, family, and employment history, psychological assessments, statements from victims, and more.
Experienced Legal Representation
Whether you are faced with a misdemeanor or felony charge, your future can be seriously impacted by a criminal conviction. Such a conviction can affect future employment, career advancement, student loans, professional licenses, and even renting an apartment. Getting competent legal representation to minimize these negative effects is critical. At the Matto Law Firm, PLLC you can trust your case to a criminal defense attorney who is determined, focused, and dedicated to helping you get the most favorable results. By discussing your case in a free consultation with Attorney Jag Matto, you will be taking a crucial first step in furthering your cause as you move through the legal process.