Felonies are considered to be the most serious violations and carry the most severe consequences. It is common for felony convictions to result lengthy prison sentences, large fines, or both. Those accused of felonies will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, who may be able to lessen the charge or the penalty.
Examples of felonies include:
- assault (specifically if it results in severe bodily harm)
- theft (depending on the monetary threshold of the amount stolen)
- armed robbery
- drug crimes (VUCSA)
- unlawful possession of firearm
- sex offenses
Washington State has three classifications of felony offenses, which carry varying levels of consequences (RCW 9a.20.021):
Class A felonies:
- The most serious offenses in Washington State, including violent crimes
- In Washington State, aggravated first degree murder may be punishable by the death penalty
- Other Class A felonies are punishable by lengthy periods of incarceration including up to life in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both a fine and prison time.
Class B felonies:
- Applies to cases involving theft in the first degree, including property worth more than $5,000
- Conviction may result in prison sentences up to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000
Class C felonies:
- Extends to individual cases of assault
- Conviction may include prison sentences of up to 5 years and/or fines up to $10,000
In addition to the penalties, a felony conviction in Washington can cause irreparable damage to someone’s reputation and hamper future employment or other personal goals. It is important anyone charged with a felony to seek the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney in order to reach the best possible outcome.
Reduced penalties or alternative sentencing may be available to those convicted of felonies. Probation is allowed in some cases, enabling individuals convicted of felonies to perform community service or to provide restitution to their victims without having to spend time in prison. When drugs are involved, rehabilitation may be considered in lieu of incarceration.
If you are convicted of a felony, it is imperative to involve an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It is your best chance of lessening the charges and reducing the direct and indirect consequences it will have on your life. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.