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Washington Criminal Law 101: What is a Felony Offense?

People often ask us, what is a felony offense? What will happen if I am convicted of a felony offense? What can be done to prevent being convicted of a felony offense?

First off, a felony offense in Washington State is a serious crime for which the punishment may be more than one year in a state or federal prison. All felonies in Washington, including juvenile felonies, are handled in the Superior Court. Washington State law establishes three classes of felonies:

Class A Felonies: These include the most “violent offenses” and “seriously violent offenses” under state criminal law (explained below) and carry a possible maximum penalty of death or imprisonment for life and a maximum $50,000 fine.

Class B Felonies: Constitute violent crimes and crimes against persons. This level of felony carries a possible maximum term of imprisonment of up to ten years and a maximum fine of $20,000.

Class C Felonies: These are lesser offenses, most are non-violent in nature, but they carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Washington State courts also utilize a detailed sentencing guideline which further divides all state felonies into 15 seriousness levels from Level I (least serious) to Level XV (most serious).

Both the class and seriousness level are important when it comes to determining the actual number of months or years a defendant may be facing if convicted of a felony. All federal courts use a similar sentencing guideline system.

State felony offenses can also be divided into other general categories such as: seriously violent, violent, violent-sex, non-violent, non-violent sex, and non-violent-traffic. These classifications can sometimes impact the rate at which a person convicted of a felony receives earned release time in prison (credit for good time) as well as whether the felony conviction can someday be removed or vacated from the person’s record.

Felony convictions can have huge social and financial impact on a person’s life. Upon conviction, the individual loses his or her rights to vote, hold public office, and to purchase, possess, or use any fire arm or items which are legally classified as dangerous weapons (knives, bow and arrows, etc.). People convicted of felonies can be legally discriminated against due for employment and housing.

If you are facing a felony charge, it is very important that you receive the best legal defense possible. The law firm of Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone has over 50 years of combined service to the community in defending felony cases. Our legal team believes that all citizens accused of any crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. We extend high quality and professional legal defense services to anyone accused of a wide array of criminal offenses, including all felonies, DUI/DWI, domestic violence charges, and all misdemeanors. Our normal coverage territories include Whatcom County, San Juan County, and Skagit County.

We offer a free one-hour consultation for criminal offenses and one of our lawyers will appear for free at your first court hearing. Please call (360) 685-4221 to schedule a meeting with one of our defense team members.  On reach us through our web info wiki here:

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