Seattle Felony Attorney(206) 895-6728
Washington divides offenses into two main classifications: misdemeanor and felony charges. Both are illegal, but a felony is much more serious.
In Washington, there are two main types of charges: misdemeanor and felony offenses, and the latter is far more severe. A felony conviction can have long-lasting consequences, such as limiting your opportunities in the future and resulting in a lengthy prison sentence. However, despite the serious nature of a felony charge, it is not a lost cause. The best course of action in any felony case is to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable legal professional who can provide an honest assessment of your options. If you or a loved one is facing a felony charge in Seattle or the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC at (206) 895-6728 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Felony Classification, Penalties & Sentencing
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) categorizes crimes as felonies according to their severity. Examples of such crimes include certain drug offenses, rape, burglary, and murder. These felonies are further classified into different levels of gravity, namely Class C, B, and A, each carrying its own potential penalties upon conviction. For instance, Class C Felonies may result in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, whereas Class A Felonies may result in lifetime imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.
The actual punishment for a felony offense will ultimately be determined based on the Washington State sentencing guidelines. These guidelines consist of 15 separate levels from I to XV, each with its own range of potential outcomes. When you are convicted of a felony, the sentencing judge will consider these guidelines and any other relevant information, such as your criminal record, family and work history, psychological evaluations, victim statements, and any mitigating factors.
Real Impact of a Felony Conviction
When faced with a felony, people often make the mistake of not fully comprehending its significant and long-lasting impact, even if they manage to avoid imprisonment. While avoiding jail time should be a top priority, it is not the only consideration to bear in mind.
Having a felony on your record can curtail your future job prospects, render you ineligible for loans, affect your immigration/citizenship status, restrict your ability to own a firearm, impede your chances of acquiring a professional license, and limit your affordable housing options.
Given these potential consequences, it is crucial to consult with a capable Seattle felony attorney who can examine the details of your case and strive to minimize or eliminate any adverse effects.
Felony Gun Enhancements in Washington
Apart from the usual consequences that come with a felony conviction in Washington, if a firearm was used while committing certain offenses that qualify as a felony, a “firearm enhancement” can substantially increase the severity of the punishment. Furthermore, this enhancement is in addition to any other aggravating factors that could potentially increase the sentence, such as the use of other deadly weapons, as Washington considers the use of firearms to be particularly egregious.
In certain cases, the penalties for using a firearm can even surpass the standard sentence associated with the original crime. It is important to note that these enhancements are mandatory and must run consecutively with all other sentencing. Moreover, firearm enhancements in Washington are ineligible for sentence reductions based on good behavior and must be served entirely in confinement. As an example, if you are convicted of felony assault and were armed at the time, even if you avoid the maximum sentence allowable under the law for the assault, you will still be subject to the mandatory term of imprisonment for possessing a firearm.
RCW 9.94a.533 outlines that Washington courts must apply the following firearm enhancements to individuals if they or an accomplice were armed with a firearm at the time of conviction for an underlying offense:
- Firearm Enhancement for Class C Felonies – 18 months for a first offense and three years for subsequent convictions.
- Firearm Enhancement for Class B Felonies – Three years for a first offense and six years for subsequent convictions.
- Firearm Enhancement for Class A Felonies – Five years for a first offense and ten years for subsequent convictions.
Almost all felonies in Washington may include a firearm enhancement, except those where using a firearm is already an essential element of the crime, such as firearm offenses like the illegal possession of a firearm, possession of an illegal firearm, or the unlawful discharge of a weapon.
While it may be clear in certain cases that a firearm was possessed or used during the commission of a felony, such as robbing a store at gunpoint, there are instances where constructive possession may come into play. For example, if you were charged with robbery and a gun was found in your vehicle, a firearm enhancement may not be warranted. Ultimately, working with a competent Seattle felony attorney with experience in this area can assist you in demonstrating that while you may have had physical possession or access to a firearm, you did not have the degree of control required to support an enhancement. In any case, it is always prudent to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore all of your options.
Alternatives & Felony Defense Options
A skilled criminal defense attorney aims to secure the best possible outcome for their clients by getting to know them, the circumstances surrounding the charges, and their priorities. This involves exploring various felony defense strategies, pursuing alternatives to incarceration, negotiating to reduce charges, or seeking the dismissal of evidence or charges based on potential rights violations. Alternative sentences such as alcohol/drug treatment, community service, probation, and plea negotiations may be considered. It is important to remember that anyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent and the burden of proof falls on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A felony lawyer can help evaluate the likelihood of the state meeting this burden and work on building a strong defense strategy. It is common for misunderstandings and unreliable witnesses to lead to felony charges. With early and effective representation, it is possible to present explanations and evidence to prove innocence, such as an alibi or mistaken identity. Other defense strategies may include acting under duress, lacking the capacity or intent to commit a crime, ignorance of the law, acting in self-defense or defense of others, or committing the crime out of necessity during an emergency.
Speak to an Aggressive Seattle Felony Attorney Today
The consequences of a felony conviction in Washington are significant and enduring, making it crucial to enlist the services of a competent defense lawyer. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we prioritize open communication and a dedication to identifying the optimal legal strategy for your case. If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony in the Seattle, Washington area, we are ready to assist. Call us at (206) 895-6728 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation to discuss your circumstances.