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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Potential Penalties for Criminal Offenses?

Gross Misdemeanor/Misdemeanor Offenses:

A gross misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. For example, DUI, Reckless Driving, Driving While License Suspended in the First and Second Degree, and Assault in the Fourth Degree-Domestic Violence are gross misdemeanor offenses.

A misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. For example, Negligent Driving in the First Degree, Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree and Possession of Marijuana-Less Than 40 Grams are misdemeanor offenses.

Felony Offenses

A felony offense is the most serious offense Washington can file against a person. Felony offenses are divided into three classes as follows:

Class A: Punishable by a maximum penalty of life in prison and by a maximum fine of $50,000. For example, Robbery in the First Degree, Rape in the First Degree and Burglary in the First Degree are classified as Class A felonies.

Class B: Punishable by a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. For example, Theft in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree and Vehicular Assault are classified as Class B felonies.

Class C: Punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. For example, Theft in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree and Malicious Mischief in the Second Degree are classified as Class C felonies.

If the crime you have been charged with is not mentioned on this page please contact us for more information.

 

Information on commonly charged crimes

Driving While License Suspended:
Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) is a frequently charged criminal traffic offense. The crime of DWLS falls into one of three degrees depending on a variety of factors. Each has its own penalties with DWLS First Degree being the most serious.

First Degree: If you have been charged with DWLS 1 this indicates that you have been classified by the Department of Licensing as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). This offense is classified as a gross misdemeanor meaning it is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. Being charged with DWLS 1 is significant because the charge carries a mandatory jail sentence upon conviction. For a first conviction there is a mandatory minimum 10 days in jail. On a second conviction, the mandatory sentence is 90 days. On a third or subsequent conviction the mandatory jail sentence would be 180 days. Furthermore, because DWLS 1 is also considered a major moving violation a conviction will lead to an additional period of HTO suspension which extends the period of administrative revocation imposed for an additional period of one year from and after the date the person would otherwise have been entitled to apply for a new license or have his or her driving privilege restored.

Second Degree: If you have been charged with DWLS 2 this means that you were driving while on a suspension other than an HTO and you are not currently eligible to reinstate your driving privileges. This type of suspension can be for many reasons one of which may include people who have had their license suspended based upon a DUI conviction or administrative suspension. DWLS 2 does not carry mandatory jail time like a DWLS 1 charge but it is still considered a gross misdemeanor which means it has a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine.

Third Degree: If you have been charged with DWLS 3 this means you were driving on a suspended license at a time when you are eligible to have your license reinstated. Frequently, the reason for this is an unpaid traffic ticket or not getting your license reinstated after a period of suspension. DWLS 3 is a misdemeanor meaning that the offense carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Negligent Driving in the First Degree:
If you have been charged with Negligent Driving in the First Degree it means that you operated a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and that you also exhibited the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug. This offense is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. This charge does not carry a mandatory license suspension or SR 22 insurance requirement like a DUI or Reckless Driving charge. In addition, Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is a traffic infraction. Traffic infractions are only punishable by a monetary penalty.

Reckless Driving:
If you have been charged with Reckless Driving it means that you operated a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. This offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Reckless driving is considered a serious criminal traffic offense in the State of Washington. As a result, a conviction will result in a 30 days license suspension by the Department of Licensing. Upon reinstatement of your license you will be required to secure SR-22 insurance and must have the more expensive form of insurance for three years. Since Reckless Driving is considered a major moving violation it will count against you as it relates to the Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status. If you have three major moving violations during a three year period you will be classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender. As a result, you would be looking at a long period of suspension of your driver’s license.

Hit and Run:
Attended: If you have been charged with Hit and Run/Attended it means you were driving a vehicle and involved in a collision with another attended vehicle. If this occurs you have the duty to stop and provide the driver/occupant of the other vehicle with your name, address, vehicle and insurance information. Failure to provide this information is a criminal offense. Hit and Run/Attended is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. In addition, Hit and Run/Attended can become a felony offense if there is an injury to the occupant of the other vehicle. A conviction for Hit and Run/Attended also carries a mandatory license suspension of one year upon conviction. Lastly, Hit and Run/Attended is considered a major moving violation for purposes of the Habitual Traffic Offender Law. If you have three major moving violations within five years you will be classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender and as a result will face a lengthy license suspension. This is another offense that could possibly be resolved in a civil manner which will result in the criminal charges being dismissed. Talk to your attorney about this possibility.

Unattended: If you have been charged with Hit and Run/Unattended it means that you were involved in a collision with an unattended vehicle and/or property of another. As such, you, as the driver have a duty to provide the owner of the vehicle/property you struck with your contact information. Furthermore, if the owner of the other vehicle/property cannot be located, the driver has a duty to leave his contact information on the struck vehicle or damaged property. Hit and Run/Unattended is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Speak to your attorney about the possibility of having this charge resolved in a civil manner with the payment of restitution for damages. If this is possible you will be able to keep the criminal charge off of your record.

Possession of Marijuana/Paraphernalia:
Forty grams or less: If you have been charged with forty grams or less of marijuana you are facing a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, if you are convicted there is mandatory jail time and mandatory fines. Lastly, a conviction for possession of marijuana can impact your ability to obtain benefits from the Federal Government, for example higher education loans.

More than 40 grams: If you possessed more than 40 grams of marijuana you may be charged with a felony drug offense which is a violation of the uniform controlled substances act (VUCSA).

Minor in Possession (MIP):
If you have been charged with an MIP charge it means that you are under the age of 21 and discovered by a law enforcement officer with alcohol in your system or with alcohol in you possession. This offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A conviction for MIP can result in a minor being excluded from some forms of financial aid. In addition, some schools have a strict policy in place regarding minor drug and alcohol offenses that can result in severe sanctions, including but not limited to, suspension or expulsion from school.

Felony Drug Offenses (VUCSA):
Felony drug offense is a serious drug offense that can result in a prison sentence, which means that a sentence of more than one year in custody can be imposed. Substances may include, but are not limited to, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, prescriptions drugs, methamphetamine and marijuana. A felony drug offense may also initiate forfeiture proceedings wherein you can lose real and personal property associated with the charges. Lastly, the penalties for a felony drug offense can vary depending on many factors, including but not limited to, whether you have prior convictions, the quantity of drugs recovered, the substance involved, whether a weapon was present and whether the charge is filed as a possession, possession with intent or manufacturing.

Minor DUI:
If you have been charged with a minor DUI it means that you were driving or were in physical control of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, under the age of twenty-one and within two hours after operating or being in physical control of the motor vehicle, had an alcohol concentration of at least 0.02 but less than .08. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A minor DUI is a serious offense that can have significant adverse consequences for the minor. A conviction for minor DUI will result in a lengthy license suspension. Other additional concerns include increased motor vehicle insurance premiums and educational obstacles.