A felony charge is a much more serious matter than a misdemeanor in all states. While any criminal charges should be taken seriously due to the penalties involved, felony charges are punishable by more than a year in a Washington state correctional institution. They also carry other criminal and social penalties that you should understand when being investigated or prosecuted.
Under Washington law RCS 9A.56.020, theft is defined as wrongfully obtaining or exerting “unauthorized control over the property or services of another” with the intent to deprive the owner. It also means to “appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another” with the intent to deprive the owner. Theft offenses can range from purse-snatching to shoplifting to eating a meal at a restaurant and sneaking out without paying. It can also include writing a bad check, stealing cash out of the register as a cashier, and embezzling funds from your employer.
In Washington State, theft is categorized into three degrees:
- Third-degree, charged as a gross misdemeanor, when the theft of property or services is valued under $750. It is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second-degree, charged as a Class C felony, when the theft of property or services is valued at more than $750 up to $5,000 or when it involves the theft of an access device such as a card. It is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-degree, charged as a Class B felony, when the theft of property or services is valued over $5,000 or when it involves taking property of any value directly from another. It carries penalties of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
Additional penalties in any theft crime may include providing restitution to the victims, community services hours, and probation. You may also be subject to civil penalties in the case of shoplifting. The business or store owner can bring a lawsuit against you seeking the monetary value of what was stolen up to $2,850, an additional penalty ranging from $100 up to $650, and reimbursement of court costs and attorney fees for the store owner.
In addition to the criminal penalties you will be facing, if you are convicted of felony theft you will wind up with a permanent criminal record. That record can pose an obstacle for you when seeking future employment, rental housing, educational aid, and professional licenses in such careers as real estate sales, nursing, pharmacy, piloting, education, plumbing, and more. Employers especially will likely be reluctant to hire someone who has been convicted of dishonesty in the past.
For noncitizens, a felony record can also impose immigration consequences. It may pose a problem when trying to renew a green card, labeling you as excludable from this country, or other immigration matters.
Get Experienced Legal Representation at Hester Law Group
Because of the negative consequences associated with a felony conviction, it is vital that you seek the help of an experienced attorney when facing such a charge. At Hester Law Group in Tacoma, you can work with a legal team that has extensive experience handling criminal charges, including felonies. Our team is dedicated to providing effective legal representation that explores all options in helping you reach the most favorable outcome.
Contact us at (253) 300-3034 for a free consultation about your case today.