Every state has its own laws but most are structured similarly to those in Washington. Additionally, some municipalities have municipal ordinances creating crimes within city limits. In Washington there are three types of violations: infractions, misdemeanors and felonies.
Infractions are the least serious type of violation of the law. They are considered civil infractions and do not carry jail time. The only sanction or punishment for an infraction is a fine. Examples of infractions are speeding tickets, red light tickets, littering tickets and many other minor violations. If you are citied with an infraction, contact our office immediately as you only have 15 days to request a hearing after being issued a notice of infraction.
Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions and are criminal charges. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you face the possibility of jail, fines, probation and other conditions. Misdemeanors are divided into two categories, simple misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. A simple misdemeanor is less serious than a gross misdemeanor and carries the possibility of up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Examples of simple misdemeanors include driving while license suspended in-the third degree, and unlawful possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana, although this law is changing with the legality of marijuana. You can also be arrested for a misdemeanor DUI.
Gross misdemeanors carry the possibility of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Examples of gross misdemeanors are DUI, Simple Assault 4° Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving and Minor in Consumption or Possession of Alcohol (MIP). There may be collateral consequences for a gross misdemeanor conviction such as suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and revocation of your right to possess firearms.
Felonies are the most serious category of crimes. A felony conviction carries the possibility of incarceration in prison, revocation of civil rights including and prohibition of firearms. Additionally, a felony can result in supervision by the Department of Corrections, fines, difficulty with employment and difficulty with housing. There are three categories of felonies in Washington Class C, Class B, and Class A.
A Class C felony are the least serious felony crimes. Conviction to a Class C felony can result in a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of Class C felonies include Joyriding (TMVWOP), Felony DUI and Possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana (UPCS), and theft 2 (property value greater than $750.00).
A Class B felony conviction carries the possibility of up to ten (10) years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Examples of Class B felonies are Residential Burglary; Unlawful Manufacturing of Methamphetamines and Vehicular Assault.
Class A felonies are the most serious crimes in Washington and carry the possibility of life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Additionally, in Washington, if someone is convicted of aggravated murder, they could face the possibility of a death sentence for crime, but Washington is one of the states that does permit such. Examples of a class A felonies include Aggravated Murder, Armed Robbery, and Forcible Rape.