In the simplest definition, felonies are crimes where a prison sentence will exceed more than a year. In the state of Washington these are broken into three classes: A, B, and C. Class A Felonies are the most severe and include murder and sexual offenses. On the other hand misdemeanors are less severe in punishment and often include jail time of less than a year and the payment of a fine. Washington breaks misdemeanors into gross misdemeanor categories and simple misdemeanor categories. Gross misdemeanors are those crimes that are punishable for up to one year in a county jail facility with or without a fine of five thousand dollars. Simple misdemeanors carry short sentences of up to ninety days in a county jail facility with or without a fine of one thousand dollars.
The sentencing of a crime may increase from a misdemeanor to a felony due to differing circumstances. For instance assault and battery that includes a deadly weapon can change from a misdemeanor to a felony or the amount of drug possessed at single time--weighed in ounces--can go from a misdemeanor to a felony easily.
First time offenders of felonies are eligible for a special sentencing that is considered for nonviolent crimes. This includes a granting of probation as a portion of a court sentence where the individual will be placed under community supervision that can last anywhere between twelve months and twenty-four months. First time offenders of gross and simple misdemeanors are eligible for a disposition that does not include a result of criminal conviction.
Three Strikes Law
Washington created a law system in 1993 that is called the Three Strikes Law. In this system individuals who have violated certain laws--normally sexual offenses--will have aggravated sentences that are mandatory without parole. Because some misdemeanors include sexual offenses, an individual who has been charged with two misdemeanors for the same crime may then be charged with a felony instead on the third offense.
Driving Under the Influence Laws
Washington has an alcohol saturation level of 0.08. An individual who has been convicted of a DUI offense will have a mandatory sentence of a minimum of one day in jail along with mandatory license suspension. Additional convictions will carry heavier convictions. In the state of Washington DUI offenses are classified as gross misdemeanors until another individual is injured or there is a causing of death, after which a felony conviction will replace the gross misdemeanor conviction.
Unlike other states, Washington provides the opportunity for individuals of all offending calibers to apply for expungement. However certain stipulations apply along with certain time line designations. To be eligible an individual must have completed a sentence, been discharged from probation or parole, must not have any pending charges, and have waited the proper amount of time.
The time period in which to wait before an application for expungement can be filed includes waiting ten years for a Class B Felony, five years for a Class C Felony, five years for a domestic violence case, three years for a simple misdemeanor, two years for a gross misdemeanor, and two years for deferred judgment. See also:
Washington DC Felony External link (opens in new window)
Washington Expungement External link (opens in new window)
Washington Felony External link (opens in new window)