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What are the maximum penalties for felonies and misdemeanors?


The process of being charged with a crime is often very confusing for people. Often, the actual criminal charges themselves can be difficult to understand, especially if this is someone's first experience with the criminal justice system. In Washington State, there are various penalties for different types of criminal offenses; in order to help oneself avoid the most severe or maximum penalties, a criminal defense attorney can be relied-upon.

For most misdemeanors in Washington, the longest county jail sentence is 90 days, whereas the maximum fine is usually one thousand dollars. It is possible to have to serve both jail time and pay a fine, but the length of the term and the amount of the fine can vary. For gross misdemeanor convictions, a person may serve a maximum of 364 days - just less than a year - in the county jail. The maximum fine for this type of conviction is five thousand dollars.

In Washington, felony classes are labeled by letters, with the most severe being Class A. A criminal conviction on a Class A felony could entail a maximum sentence of lifetime imprisonment or a maximum fine of $50,000. A Class C felony, on the other hand, carries the possibility of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000. In the middle are Class B felonies, whose maximum penalties include a $20,000 fine or a state correctional term of 10 years.

It's important to remember that just because there is a maximum sentence associated with a particular felony class, that doesn't mean a defendant will necessarily face that penalty. An experienced defense lawyer can form a personalized strategy for an outcome favorable to a defendant faced with a felony, misdemeanor or both in Washington State.

Source: Washington State Legislature, "RCW 9a.20.021," accessed March 16, 2016

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