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How Does Washington Define Aggravated Criminal Charges?

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When facing criminal charges in Washington state, it’s essential to understand the nature of the offense and the potential consequences of a conviction. Many defendants face jail time, fines, and administrative penalties like license revocation. In some cases, criminal charges can be classified as aggravated, which can result in more severe penalties. 

If you’re facing charges for an aggravated crime, it’s critical to be aware of these factors and seek help from a Washington criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can safeguard your rights and build a strong defense to either reduce the charges against you or request that the court dismiss the case entirely.

What Is an Aggravated Crime in Washington?

In Washington state, an aggravated crime is a criminal offense that involves aggravating factors that increase the severity of the crime. An aggravating factor is a circumstance that makes the offense more serious, such as the victim’s vulnerability, the use of a weapon, or whether injury or death occurred. For example, assault with a deadly weapon is considered aggravated assault, which carries more severe penalties than simple assault.

Aggravating Factors under Washington Law

Washington state law defines several aggravating factors that can increase the severity of a criminal offense, such as:

  • The defendant’s prior criminal history
  • Violent crimes committed against a pregnant victim
  • Acts of intentional cruelty committed by the defendant against the victim
  • Holding a high position in the drug trade hierarchy
  • Exploiting a vulnerable victim, such as a senior citizen or a mentally or physically incapacitated person
  • Engaging in three separate transactions of selling, distributing, or trafficking controlled substances
  • Multiple victims or incidents of economic loss suffered in a fraudulent scheme, such as Ponzi schemes or investment scams
  • An ongoing pattern of sexual violence against a minor under the age of 18
  • Aggravated theft, such as burglary committed while the victim was in the residence, or against a “good Samaritan”

What to Do If You Are Arrested for an Aggravated Crime 

If you are arrested for an aggravated crime, it’s important to remain calm and follow certain guidelines to protect your rights. First, do not resist arrest or attempt to flee, as this can result in additional charges. Second, do not speak to the police without an attorney present. Anything you say to the police can be used against you in court, so it’s best to remain silent until you have legal representation.

Additionally, do not consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or property without a warrant or probable cause. Finally, do not plead guilty or make any statements about the charges until you have consulted with a criminal defense attorney.

Contact a Washington Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing any type of criminal charges in Washington state, it’s crucial to contact a Tacoma defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can explain the charges against you, explore potential defenses, and help you navigate the legal process. He or she can also negotiate with the prosecutor and seek the best possible outcome for your case.

If you are arrested for an aggravated crime, it’s especially important to contact a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling such cases. Your lawyer can review the evidence, identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and defend your rights in court. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact an attorney to discuss your case and plan your next steps.

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