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What Happens If You Are Charged with a Misdemeanor?

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When you are charged -with a crime in Washington, the state will assign penalties based on the category that the offense falls under. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you could face charges for a felony, misdemeanor, or gross misdemeanor—all of which can result in serious penalties and future implications. If you are charged with a misdemeanor in Washington state, it is important to seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction

The most serious offenses in Washington are categorized as felonies and generally carry the highest amount of jail time, fines, and other penalties. A misdemeanor crime, on the other hand, is not as serious as a felony but still carries serious consequences.

A misdemeanor crime can result in up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. In some cases, you may receive both a fine and jail time. Common types of misdemeanors in Washington include the following.

  • Petty theft
  • Failure to disperse on an order from law enforcement
  • Prostitution or patronizing a prostitute
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Disorderly conduct

Washington Gross Misdemeanor Laws

If a crime is not serious enough to be considered a felony but more serious than a misdemeanor, it generally qualifies as a gross misdemeanor. Unlike a regular misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor carries harsher penalties and involves aggravating circumstances that makes it more serious than the lesser offense.

Examples of gross misdemeanor crimes in Washington include the following.

  • Repeated stalking that does not involve felony circumstances
  • Theft of property worth $750 or less
  • Violation of domestic violence protective order provisions
  • Theft of subscription television services

If you are charged with a gross misdemeanor in Washington, you could face up to 364 days in county jail or a fine of up to $5,000. In many cases, the court will assign both fines and prison time to your case.

Impact a Misdemeanor Conviction Can Have on Your Life

Having a misdemeanor conviction on your record can have severe implications for the rest of your life. Although these crimes may not be as serious as felonies, a criminal background can impact your ability to find a job, secure housing, or even be accepted to college or vocational programs.

  • If you are an immigrant in the United States and receive a misdemeanor conviction, it could impact your ability to stay in the country. In certain situations, the government may initiate deportation proceedings and remove you from the country.
  • Many employers require employees to submit to criminal background checks as a condition of employment. Although some employers hire applicants with criminal backgrounds, you may find it difficult to secure a new job.
  • When applying to rent property, purchase an insurance policy, or even apply to a college or university, a criminal record could impact your chances of acceptance. As a result, you can be rejected from institutions, apartment complexes, and other important programs.

If you are facing misdemeanor charges in Washington state, it is important to seek the help of a Tacoma misdemeanor defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can identify the best course of action for your situation and advocate for your best interests throughout your case. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to discuss your legal options.

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