As a general rule, a Washington felony is a criminal charge which carries over a year in custody as a potential consequence. There are some exceptions to this (unranked felonies), but for the most part, felonies provide consequences than a simple misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor.
Washington state courts utilize a point system, where your prior criminal history (in Washington and other states) and the nature of the charges currently pending against you dictate the standard “range” of jail or prison time that you are facing. The number of “points” on your score will determine how high your “range” should be. If the Court finds exceptional reasons, it can depart from the “standard” range, and impose a lower sentence than the low end, or a higher sentence than the high end. At least one specific aggravating circumstance is necessary to be found by the Court to allow an “exceptional up” (or higher than the standard range). At least one specific mitigating factor is necessary to allow an “exceptional down” (lower than the standard range). These factors must be either agreed to by the parties, or it must be proved to the Court before it can be used to affect sentencing on a felony offense.
If you are charged with a Class A felony, the maximum possible sentence is a life in prison, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of fifty thousand dollars, or by both such confinement and fine. For a class B felony, the maximum possible sentence is confinement in a state correctional institution for a term of ten years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of twenty thousand dollars, or by both such confinement and fine. For a class C felony, the maximum possible sentence is confinement in a state correctional institution for five years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of ten thousand dollars, or by both such confinement and fine.
Determining exactly the range and consequences that you may be facing is sometimes a complicated and daunting calculation. Hiring a felony attorney who knows this area of law will allow you to have the best information in order to make a decision regarding your case.
Enhancements can be added to standard ranges in several circumstances, all which must be proven by the State or agreed to by the parties. These enhancements are mandatory, and run consecutive to other sentencing provisions, without alternatives (meaning the time must be served in total confinement). Some examples of enhancements to Washington State felonies: using a firearm in the course of the crime, using another deadly weapon (like a knife) in the course of the crime, involving a minor in gang-related activity, offering or accepting sexual acts in exchange for a fee, having sexual motivation behind the acts which constitute the crime. Enhancements are sometimes much more serious ranges of time in custody than the standard range itself. The enhancements are often used in plea negotiations to create or subtract consequences from the sentencing which would follow from a felony plea. Adding enhancements prior to felony trial is a way for the prosecution to “raise the stakes.” It is important to retain a felony lawyer who is well-versed in Washington laws to protect your personal freedom and guard against difficult and irrevocable consequences which come from a complex felony plea agreement or sentence.