What is a Crime?

A crime is a violation of a specific criminal statute. Crimes in Washington generally fall into two categories: (1) felonies and (2) misdemeanors. The exact punishment that can be imposed upon conviction of a crime depends on the type of crime and the individual's prior criminal record.

Generally speaking, a felony is a crime for which the sentence may be more than one year in prison. In the state of Washington, there are three classes of felonies: class A, class B and class C. Class A felonies are the most serious.

There are two categories of misdemeanors in this state: gross misdemeanors (punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine) and misdemeanors (punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine).

Convictions for certain crimes may require mandatory minimum sentences, and penalties may be increased if the crime occurred while armed with a firearm or deadly weapon. Washington's Sentencing Reform Act governs punishments for felonies in this state. Except for special circumstances, the court must sentence the offender within a particular range set by the state Legislature.

First offenders may be eligible for special sentencing consideration for nonviolent crimes. If the court grants probation as a part of the court's sentence, a person must be placed on community supervision for between 12 and 24 months.