Washington State Misdemeanors Generally
In Washington state misdemeanor crimes are the lowest level of crime and certainly less serious than a felony, but can still affect your life, your family, and your livelihood, now and into the future. You need to be aware of all of the consequences of the charges against you and have knowledgeable counsel to help you avoid them.
Gross Misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine, though most convictions result in much lower penalties. The penalties usually include community service, work crew, fines, and classes. There may be mandatory penalties such as jail time, license suspension, and forfeiture of the right to own firearms. A conviction will most certainly go on your criminal record and may go on your driving record.
The most well-known gross misdemeanor is DUI, but others include: Reckless Driving, Assault Fourth Degree (Domestic Violence), Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Theft Third Degree or Shoplifting, Trespassing, Malicious Mischief Third Degree, Telephone Harassment, and Hit and Run of an Occupied Vehicle.
Simple Misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine, though most convictions result in much lower penalties. The penalties usually include community service, work crew, fines, and classes, though jail time is sometimes imposed depending upon your criminal history, the severity of the crime, and which court you are in. There are generally no mandatory penalties.
Resolving Your Case
Despite the significant consequences of a Washington State misdemeanor charge, there are numerous ways to keep such a conviction off your record and from affecting your life. Some of those resolutions result in the immediate dismissal of the charges (such as a compromise of misdemeanor or bail forfeiture), others require a probationary period that requires law abiding behavior, payment of fines, classes or community service (such as a stipulated order of continuance or a deferred sentence). Other times, amending the crime to a traffic infraction or reducing the charge to a lesser offense is the best outcome and avoids mandatory penalties and consequences. Finally, if the prosecutor is not willing to work with us on such an outcome, sometimes the best solution to a Washington State misdemeanor is trial.
Knowing what options are available in your case and understanding your biggest concerns are the key to getting the right resolution. You need to have an honest conversation with your attorney about your goals and expectations. Below is more information about specific misdemeanors.