Washington Law: What is a Felony?

Posted over 4 years ago. Applies to Washington, 5 helpful votes

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A felony offense in Washington State is a serious crime for which the punishment may be more than one year in a state or federal prison. All felonies in Washington, including juvenile felonies, are handled in the Superior Court. Washington State law establishes three classes of felonies: Class A Felonies: These include the most "violent offenses" and "seriously violent offenses" under state criminal law (explained below) and carry a possible maximum penalty of death or imprisonment for life and a maximum $50,000 fine. Class B Felonies: Constitute violent crimes and crimes against persons. This level of felony carries a possible maximum term of imprisonment of up to ten years and a maximum fine of $20,000. Class C Felonies: These are lesser offenses, most are non-violent in nature, but they carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Washington State courts also utilize a detailed sentencing guideline which further divides all state felonies into 15 seriousness levels from Level I (least serious) to Level XV (most serious). Both the class and seriousness level are important when it comes to determining the actual number of months or years a defendant may be facing if convicted of a felony. Federal courts use a similar sentencing guideline system. State felony offenses can also be divided into other general categories such as: seriously violent, violent, violent-sex, non-violent, non-violent sex, and non-violent-traffic. These classifications can sometimes impact the rate at which a person convicted of a felony receives earned release time in prison (credit for good time) as well as whether the felony conviction can someday be removed or vacated from the person's record.

Additional Resources

Lustick Law Firm - Criminal Defense

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