If you’ve never been charged with a criminal offense before, the dizzying number of terms in the justice system can be confusing. Let’s examine the facts and find a few layman’s terms that will clear up confusion about the different criminal offenses and how they can impact a life.
A criminal offense is a broad, umbrella-type term. It encompasses all of the levels and types of criminal offenses that are possible in any given region. A criminal felony is a severe level of crime. Both types of criminal offenses can result in a jail sentence, prison time, and may involve fines and fees from the court or forms of restitution.
What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
Criminal charges can range from simple misdemeanors to gross misdemeanors, and finally, felony offenses. Misdemeanors convicted in the state of Washington typically mean less than a year in county jail. They also incur a fine of up to $1,000 or $5,000, depending on the severity of the misdemeanor criminal offense. Felonies convicted in the state of Washington can mean up to maximum life imprisonment in a state correctional institution, as well as a possible fine of up to $50,000.
There are two levels of criminal misdemeanors and three classes of criminal felonies in the state of Washington. We will provide a few examples of each as well as their corresponding maximum punishments. One should remember that the full sentences for any crime may include other stipulations as recommended by the court or the judge, customized to each type of crime and its surrounding circumstances.
Simple criminal offenses might include misdemeanors like:
- Driving without a license
- Disorderly Conduct
These are minor criminal offenses with maximum punishments of serving up to 90 days in county jail or paying a fine of up to $1,000. One might only have to pay a fine or serve time, and in some cases, both jail time and fine payment are subject to the court’s decision. Gross misdemeanors are the next level of criminal offenses and can include:
- Criminal mischief
- Official misconduct
These gross misdemeanors carry a higher potential fine of up to $5,000 and possible jail time of up to 364 days. That wraps up the misdemeanor criminal offenses. Felony-level criminal offenses divide into three classes in the state of Washington.
The felony classes are as follows:
- Class A Felony
- Crimes might involve assault, robbery, arson, or other crimes
- Maximum punishment can include up to life imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $50,000.
- Class B Felony
- Crimes might involve bribery, extortion, theft of an automobile, or other crimes
- Maximum punishment can include up to ten years of prison time and a potential fine of up to $20,000.
- Class C Felony
- Crimes might involve trading in public office, bigamy, forgery, vehicle prowling, or other crimes
- Maximum punishment can include up to five years of prison time and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
You can speak to a criminal defense lawyer with Leyba Defense now; call (206) 258-6049.