What Is The Difference Between a Felony and A Misdemeanor?

Facing any sort of criminal charges leads to a very stressful period of weeks or months. Whether the charges are felony or misdemeanor charges, legal ramifications can be lasting and debilitating. Many people are unaware of the difference between felonies and misdemeanors and find themselves in a world of confusion when faced with legal terms such as these.

In order to help you better understand the difference between a felony and misdemeanor in Washington State, the legal experts at Leyba Defense have created this article to help individuals facing charges to understand what their best course of action is.

Difference Between a Felony and A Misdemeanor

What is a Misdemeanor?

First, let’s look at misdemeanors and what penalties are often associated with misdemeanors in Washington State. The two most common kinds of misdemeanors are gross or simple misdemeanors. Each has its own consequences which are detailed below. Do not be fooled by the title misdemeanor, misdemeanors are serious offenses and have serious consequences.

For example, a DUI, while considered a misdemeanor, can result in the loss of driving privileges, fines, and even jail time. 

Different  Types of Misdemeanors in Washington

Simple Misdemeanors in Washington State

Despite its name, a simple misdemeanor is anything but that. A simple misdemeanor in Washington state carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a whopping fine of $1,000.

Gross Misdemeanors in Washington State

Gross misdemeanors are more severe than simple misdemeanors and carry fines up to $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail. Examples of gross misdemeanors in Washington State include DUI charges and domestic assault.

One note on DUIs, while a Washington State driver only slightly over the BAC will get a misdemeanor charge, if you are far above the BAC limit or driving with children in the car you will likely receive felony charges.

What is a Felony?

Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and are punishable by heavy fines and years in jail. Washington State divides felonies into classes (A, B, and C) with Class A felonies being the most severe.

Here’s a breakdown of felony classes in Washington and the penalties associated with each.

Class A Felonies

Class A felonies are punishable by up to life imprisonment and heavy fines of up to $50,000. Class A felonies are considered the most serious crimes in Washington State. Crimes that can earn Class A felony charges include first and second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and rape.

Class B Felonies 

Class B penalties are punishable by up to 10 years in a state penitentiary and fines up to $20,000. Examples of Class B felonies include auto theft, possession of a stolen gun, violating a restraining order.

Class C Felonies 

A Class C felony can be punished by up to five years in jail and/or up-to $10,000 in fines. Some examples of Class C felonies in Washington State are third and fourth-degree assault, an act of theft in which the items stolen are worth between $750 and $1,500 (this excludes theft of guns and cars).

What to do if You are Facing Felony or Misdemeanor Charges

If you or someone you know are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, it is essential that you seek out the help of a defense attorney. Misdemeanor or felony charges should never be viewed lightly as they can have lasting repercussions for individuals. Felony and misdemeanor charges can affect everything from current to future employment, financial security, and even relationships. Your future deserves to be considered in such situations and should be taken seriously, so get a defense attorney on your case immediately.

Seeking Legal Help for Felony or Misdemeanor Charges?

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Washington State that you would like to contest or have penalties reduced, it’s essential that you work with a defense attorney. Working with a seasoned defense attorney is the only way to have a good chance at having penalties reduced.

Here at Leyba Defense, we have a team of legal experts who are ready to help you build your defense. Expert defense attorney Matthew Leyba has been working with those charged with felonies and misdemeanors in the Seattle area for more than a decade. He is a seasoned defense attorney with a long record of successful cases to show for his career.

If you are currently in the midst of a legal struggle and need some expert counsel, schedule a consultation with Matthew Leyba today.

Matthew Leyba has experience in many facets of criminal defense, whether the charges include DUIs or other criminal charges, working with expert attorney Matthew Leyba will ensure that you get the best possible results for your case.