Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanor Crimes in Washington State

All crimes in Washington are enumerated in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The codes outline what a crime entails and presents sentencing guidelines for the appropriate punishment. Washington crimes are split into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses, and can be divided into “Simple” and “Gross” categories. Felonies are subcategorized into three classes: A, B, and C. These classes rank from most serious to least serious.

A Misdemeanor Crime in Washington State

Misdemeanors are – in legal terms – seen as “minor” criminal offenses. Some examples of common misdemeanors include unlawful marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, and shoplifting. These crimes often include penalties of up to $1,000 fines and 90 days in jail. Gross misdemeanors are treated more seriously, and can lead to one year in jail and $5,000 penalties. Not every misdemeanor leads to jail time, but some require mandatory sentencing as stated in the RCW. Outside of the RCW, further penalties will depend on the nature of the crime, past criminal history, and other aggravating factors.

A Felony Crime in Washington

Felony crimes are significantly more serious than misdemeanors, including offenses such as armed robbery, rape, illegal drug sales, and burglary. Besides the aforementioned three classes that felonies initially split into, they are then also further identified by a complicated “Level” system under Washington State sentencing guidelines. There are fifteen levels, and each level has its own range for sentences. Judges involved in felony trials are also called to draft pre-sentencing reports which are then taken into consideration during the final verdict. Such reports contain information like family, criminal, and employment history, along with statements from victims and psychological assessments.

How to Protect Yourself From Misdemeanor and Felony Penalties

Although misdemeanors are considered “minor” compared to felonies, they can still seriously impact your future due to being a criminal conviction. Convictions can affect career advancement, applicability for student loans, the ability to earn professional licenses, and chances for future employment. Expert legal representation for your Washington misdemeanor or felony is vital to minimize adverse effects. Criminal defense attorney Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. serves Washington clients and can assist you with protecting your rights. Call the office today at +1 (253) 312-6122 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.