Washington Drug Crime Laws
If a person is convicted of a drug crime in Washington, it is referred to as a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act or a VUCSA. The Revised Code of Washington, section 9A.20.021 lays out the maximum sentences for crimes committed after July 1, 1984 when the law took effect. There are three categories of criminal charges in Washington: misdemeanors are the lightest offenses, followed by gross misdemeanors and felonies are the most serious crimes.
It is important to understand the potential consequences when accused if any criminal charge. Washington law only sets out the maximum sentences for criminal classifications. Ultimately, the sentence will be decided by a judge who will take into account the offender's criminal record, the circumstances surrounding the case and the prosecutor's sentence recommendation.
Seattle Felony Penalties
The majority of VUCSA crimes result in penalties felony charges. In Washington, there are several levels of felonies. Different crimes are classified as different level felonies and the maximum sentences vary depending on the level of crime. There are three levels of felonies: A, B and C. Class A felonies are the most serious and carry the most severe sentences.
RCW 9A.20.021.1 states that:
Unless a different maximum sentence for a classified felony is specifically established by a statute of this state, no person convicted of a classified felony shall be punished by confinement or fine exceeding the following:
Class A Felony: The penalties can be either a maximum jail sentence of life in prison or a fine fixed by the court of a maximum of $50,000 or a combination of both. Class A charges are rare for drug crimes, but that does not mean that a person cannot be faced with them For example, distribution of a Schedule IV drug, which includes most narcotic drugs, to a minor under the age of 18 is a Class A felony.
Class B Felony: A person convicted of a class B felony will face a maximum fine of $25,000 or a prison sentence of 10 years or both. Several VUCSA drug crimes are Class B felonies, For example, creating or possessing a counterfeit Schedule I or II drug is a class B felony.
Class C Felony: A Class C conviction can result in penalties of up to five years of jail time, a maximum fine of $10,000 or a combination of both. Crimes such as manufacturing or distributing a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance is a class C felony. Class C is the most common criminal classification for drug crimes. While sentencing for these crimes is lighter than Class A or B offenses, it is still a felony conviction which can include additional consequences.
In addition to these penalties, a felony conviction will result in a mark on the offender's criminal record. Schools and businesses look at applicants' criminal records when making recruitment decisions. A felony conviction can cause an applicant to be overlooked. An offender may even lose their ability to qualify for student loans if they are convicted of a felony offense. Sentences may also include probation, and minors under 21 can face a year of driver's license revocation.
Seattle Gross Misdemeanor Penalties
A gross misdemeanor offense is a crime that is not serious enough to be considered a felony but requires more penalties than a simple misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanor crimes include delivering drug paraphernalia to a minor.
The penalties for a gross misdemeanor conviction under a Title 9A RCW offense include to a maximum term of one year of imprisonment in the county jail or a maximum fine of $5,000 or a combination of the two.
Seattle Misdemeanor Penalties
Misdemeanor penalties include possession of forty grams or less of marijuana and other lesser drug crimes. A person who is convicted of a misdemeanor that is defined under Title 9A in RCW will face penalties of a fixed prison term of no more than 90 days, a $1,000 fine or less or a combination of the two.
Seattle Drug Crime Attorney
No matter what the charge, your case has defense options. In drug cases, the key to a solid defense is suppressing the evidence. In most VUCSA crimes the evidence is the drugs themselves. If it can be proven that police made some error when collecting the evidence, it may not be admissible in court. With no evidence to support the charges, it is hard for a jury to make a conviction.
If you have been arrested for a VUCSA crime, call our office right away. Attorney Steve Karimi cares about his clients. He works hard to build a strong defense and to support each and every one of his clients. When you call for a free consultation, attorney Karimi will meet with you and go over your entire case. Not only will you understand more about the penalties you face, you will rest assured knowing you have superior legal assistance.