Drug Crime Sentencing in Seattle
If you have been arrested for a drug-related offense in Washington, you probably have a lot of questions. One common concern people have is how much jail time they will have to serve if they are found guilty. This is not an easy question to answer because many factors go into determining a sentence. There are guidelines, however, and an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as Steve Karimi, can explain more. The important first step after an arrest is to contact a lawyer to begin building your defense.
In Washington, a drug crime is often referred to as a VUCSA. This stands for Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. VUCSA crimes are taken very seriously. In fact, most of these offenses are felony crimes and will result in fines, probation and long periods of incarceration. If you are facing criminal charges for an act that was in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi today to set up a free consultation and to learn more about your potential penalties.
The VUCSA Sentencing Process
The exact penalties that you are sentenced to are not granted until after you have been convicted of the offense. This happens in one of two ways; one, you plead guilty or no contest to your charges. The second way is to be found guilty after a trial. In either situation, the judge will set a date for a sentencing hearing. This is generally a few days or weeks later in order for the judge to have time to look at items such as the crime you were convicted of, your criminal record, and other factors that affect the case such as witness statements. At the sentencing, the judge will grant a sentence that they feel is fitting of the events and that will discourage recidivism. There is no way to control what this sentence will be unless you have a knowledgeable VUCSA defense attorney on your side
The law lists maximum sentences for grades of crimes in terms of fines and incarceration. These are as follows:
- Misdemeanors: Maximum of 90 days in jail and/or fines of $1,000
- Gross Misdemeanors: Maximum of 90 days 1 year in jail and/or fines of $5,000.
- Class C Felonies: Maximum of 5 years in prison and/or fines of $10,000
- Class B Felonies: Maximum of 10 years in prison and/or fines of $20,000
- Class A Felonies: Up to life imprisonment and/or fines of $50,000
In cases where drugs are involved, Washington law also has a sentencing grid for helping judges determine the correct amount on incarceration to sentence. The grid, listed under RCW 9.94A.517, appears as follows:
|Seriousness Level||0 to 2||3 to 5||6 to 9 or more|
|III||51 to 68 months||68+ to 100 months||100+ to 120 months|
|II||12+ to 20 months||20+ to 60 months||60+ to 120 months|
|I||0 to 6 months||6+ to 12 months||12+ to 24 months|
This grid takes some time to understand and depends on two separate factors:
- The “Seriousness Level” of the crime: All drug crimes are listed under RCW 9.94A.518 with a seriousness code based on their severity.
- Offender Score: Many factors go into calculating your offender score (see the full explanation under RCW 9.94A.525) such as prior convictions, if violence or death was involved, etc.
The judge will calculate your offender score and look at the recommended prison sentence under the corresponding seriousness level of your crime. The seriousness levels for drug crimes in Washington appear below:
- Level I:
- Forged Prescription
- Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver marijuana
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Unlawful Use of Building for Drug Purposes
- Level II:
- Create, deliver, or possess a counterfeit controlled substance
- Deliver or possess with intent to deliver methamphetamine
- Maintaining a Dwelling or Place for Controlled Substances
- Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver narcotics from Schedule I or II
- Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver narcotics from Schedule III, IV, or V or nonnarcotics from Schedule I-V
- Manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute an imitation controlled substance
- Level III:
- Any felony offense under chapter 69.50 RCW with a deadly weapon
- Controlled Substance Homicide
- Delivery of imitation or real drug by person 18 or over to person under 18
- Manufacture of methamphetamine
- Possession of certain chemicals with intent to manufacture methamphetamine
- Selling for profit (controlled or counterfeit) any controlled substance
Fighting Your VUCSA Sentence
If you are arrested for a drug crime in Seattle, you do not have to accept that you will be sentenced to long periods of incarceration, fines and other penalties. Call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi and let attorney Steve Karimi build a defense. He will work tirelessly to get you reduced charges or get a plea deal which results in preferential sentencing that you will agree to prior to accepting. Take control of your VUCSA case, call attorney Steve Karimi now to set up a free consultation.