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Definition of Punishment/General Defenses

Definitions of Punishment
When talking about crimes and their definitions, the possible punishment that accompanies that crime is brought up as well. But the terms are rather confusing. Class A felony; Gross Misdemeanor; what do these really mean?

Washington State law separates out punishments in two categories: 1) Classified Felonies and 2) Misdemeanors and Gross Misdemeanors.

In general, the classes of felonies carry the following penalties:

Class A: Confinement in a state correctional institution for a term of life; or a fine of $50,000, or both.

Class B: Confinement in a state correctional institution for a term of ten years; or a fine of $20,000, or both.

Class C: Confinement in a state correctional institution for a term of five years; or a fine of $10,000, or both.

Non-Felony cases are either Misdemeanor’s or Gross Misdemeanors.

A Gross misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

A Misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 90 days, or by a fine of not more than $1,000 or both.

The actual jail time is dependent on a specific calculation based on prior history and the level of the crime.

Another punishment sometimes imposed by the court is restitution. Sometimes a plea agreement is made instead of having a trial and facing the possibility of jail time. When that happens, there may be a requirement to pay the victim back the amount taken from them. Sometimes the Court may decide that the restitution will consist of an amount equal to, but not more than, double the amount taken, or value of the amount taken.

Sometimes the word “attempted” is attached to a charge, like “attempted murder in the first degree”. A person is guilty of “attempt to commit a crime” if he or she “does any act which is a substantial step toward the commission of that crime” (RCW 9A.28.020)

The punishment depends on the level of crime.

An attempt is a:

Class A Felony when the crime attempted is murder in the first or second degree, arson in the first degree, child molestation in the first degree, indecent liberties by forcible compulsion, rape in the first or second degree, and rape of a child in the first or second degree.

Class B Felony when the crime attempted is a Class A Felony other than those listed above.

Class C Felony when the crime attempted is normally a Class B Felony.

Gross Misdemeanor when the crime attempted is normally a Class C Felony, and

Misdemeanor when the crime attempted is typically a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor.

General Defenses
RCW 9A.16 gives the following as general defenses to some crimes.

Use of force- When lawful.
Homicide- When Excusable.
Justifiable homicide or use of deadly force by public officer, peace officer, person aiding.
Homicide by other person when justifiable.
Duress.
Entrapment.
Action for being detained on mercantile establishment premises for investigation- ” reasonable grounds” as defense.
Intoxication.
Use of force on children.
Defending against a violent crime.

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