Misdemeanors in Washington
In the most basic sense, felonies are crimes that carry a prison sentence of more than a year. In the state of Washington, these are classified as follows: The letters A, B, and C A class The most serious offenses are felonies, which include murder and sexual offenses. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, carry less severe penalties, such as jail time of less than a year and the payment of a fine. Misdemeanors in Washington are classified as either gross misdemeanors or simple misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by up to a year in a county jail facility, with or without a $5,000 fine. Simple misdemeanors carry short sentences of up to ninety days in county jail, with or without a $1,000 fine.
Charges of Misdemeanor
Due to varying circumstances, the sentencing of a crime may increase from a misdemeanor to a felony. For example, assault and battery with a deadly weapon can easily escalate from a misdemeanor to a felony, or the amount of drug possessed at a single time—measured in ounces—can easily escalate from a misdemeanor to a felony.
First-time felons are eligible for the special sentencing that is reserved for nonviolent crimes. This includes the granting of probation as part of a court sentence in which the individual will be placed under community supervision for a period of twelve to twenty-four months. First-time offenders of gross and simple misdemeanors are eligible for a disposition without a criminal conviction.
The Three Strikes Rule
In 1993, Washington established a legal system known as the Three Strikes Law. Individuals who violate certain laws—typically sexual offenses—will face aggravated sentences that are mandatory without parole under this system. Because some misdemeanors include sexual offenses, a person charged with two misdemeanors for the same crime may be charged with a felony on the third offense instead.
Driving While Intoxicated Regulations
The alcohol saturation level in Washington is 0.08. A person convicted of a DUI offense faces a mandatory sentence of at least one day in jail as well as a mandatory license suspension. Additional convictions will result in harsher penalties. DUI offenses in Washington are classified as gross misdemeanors until another person is injured or a death occurs, at which point a felony conviction will replace the gross misdemeanor conviction.
Expungement in Washington
Unlike other states, Washington allows individuals of all offending levels to apply for expungement. Certain restrictions, as well as time line designations, apply. To be eligible, a person must have served their sentence, been released from probation or parole, have no pending charges, and have waited the appropriate amount of time.
Waiting periods for expungement include 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.