Felony Conviction Consequences. A Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
Depending on how serious the legislature considers a crime, every Washington state felony conviction falls into one of three categories: Class A (most serious), Class B and Class C (least serious). It is important to understand these categories specify the “maximum” amount of time and fine each “class” of crime carries and are generally not what a likely sentence will be. However, which Class of Crime you fall into gives one a rough idea of how serious the police, courts and prosecuting attorney will take your case.
Class A Life in prison | $50,000 fine
Class B Ten years in prison | $20,000 fine
Class C Five years in prison | $10,000 fine
To get a better understanding of what an adult is likely to get as a sentence for felonies committed on or after July 1, 1984, one must look at the grid and tier system of the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) which was implemented in 1981 and has been updated almost every year since then. This very formal grid and tier system is, in theory, designed to ensure that offenders who commit similar crimes and have similar criminal histories receive equivalent sentences. Obviously, the nuances of each felony conviction’s case facts, prior criminal history, prosecutorial discretion in charging and how seriously a criminal defense lawyer | attorney takes their job can produce a wide variety of results. However, the sentencing sheet for each crime is a good starting place for considering what one might get as a potential felony sentence. To get a feel for what the exposure is, one can look at the offender scoring sheets for 2013 in the Washington State Adult Sentencing Manual between pages 221-464. Each crime is listed alphabetically.
Each of “Offender Scoring Sheets” contains guidelines and procedures used by courts to impose sentences that are applied equally to anyone convicted in Washington. The “Offender Scoring Sheets” do allow for some judicial discretion by providing presumptive sentencing ranges for the courts to follow. The ranges are structured so that offenses involving greater harm to a victim and/or to society result in greater punishment. Sentences that depart from the standard presumptive ranges must be based upon substantial and compelling reasons and may be appealed by either the prosecutor or the defendant. With this in mind, the vast majority of felony sentences stay within these standard presumptive ranges.
You will notice a simple mathematical table that calculates an “offender score”. An offender score can range from 0-9+. In general, the number of points an offender receives depends on five factors: (1) the number of prior criminal convictions or juvenile dispositions; (2) the relationship between any prior offense(s) and the current offense of conviction; (3) the presence of other current convictions; (4) the offender’s community custody status at the time the crime was committed; and (5) the length of the offender’s crime-free behavior between offenses.
There are additional subtleties to calculating an offender score involving multiple charges, deadly weapon enhancements, firearm enhancements, first time offender waivers, DOSA, what possibility there is of vacating or removing a conviction in the future that you and your criminal defense lawyer | attorney should go over, but every felony conviction analysis starts with an “Offender Scoring Sheet”. You should review one with your prospective attorney.
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled an enormous number of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know that criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim our clients hire us because they want staunch and effective counsel who takes the time to make sure their rights are protected. Whether our role is as legal counsel, negotiator, or litigator, we have years of experience fighting and resolving cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.