What Is A Felony?

Washington State is known for many things, but going easy on felons is not one of them.

What is a felony exactly?

In this blog, we will explore the legal definition, in addition to the consequences and how it varies from a misdemeanor, so that you can be better prepared for what is to come.

What is a felony?

Whether you were recently charged with a felony or someone you know is awaiting sentencing, it is beneficial to learn what a felony is so that you know how to plan. Some examples of felonies are drug infractions, burglary, murder, sexual abuse, and more.

A felony is a serious crime that falls under one of three categories in Washington State. These include Class A, Class B, and Class C. (RCW 9A.20.010) No matter which class of felony you’re charged with, you’re looking at over a year in prison.

Minors may also be tried as adults for felony charges in Washington State. The crime, of course, must be significant enough. Generally, Washington State aims to keep minors in juvenile court, but there are exceptions, such as in the case of murder and other charges that pose a threat to society.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

If you are charged in the Washington State court, you may end up with either a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a minor charge that may result in fines of up to $1,000, incarceration for up to 90 days, or both. Between a felony and misdemeanor, is a gross misdemeanor, that can result in fines up $5,000, incarceration up to 364 days, or both. The least severe criminal charge, in general, is called an infraction – these usually result in a fine of some sort, and though highly unusual, can technically include up to 5 days in jail. These infractions don’t go on our criminal record, and include things like traffic tickets, trespassing, etc.

There are a few differences between a felony and a misdemeanor. It comes down to the crime severity and your previous offenses. These factors affect both the amount you must pay and how long you may spend in prison or jail.

What to Be Prepared for With a Felony Conviction.

It can be stressful to await the results of a trial. If you receive a felony conviction, you should first prepare yourself for fines and jail time. Class A felonies come with large ramifications, including up to a lifetime in prison, $50,000 in fines, or both.

A Class B felony is lighter but still significant, with as many as 10 years in prison, $20,000 in fines, or both. Class C felonies equate to as much as five years in prison, $10,000 in fines, or both.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Felonies are much more than a charge that comes with fines and time owed. They are a sentence that can affect you for the rest of your life, such as when applying to jobs.

A criminal defense lawyer can help in many ways, such as by petitioning the court to reduce your felony from a Class B to a Class C. This can come with less time and fines.

An attorney can also identify flaws in your case and get evidence thrown out as inadmissible in court. Our attorneys know the Washington legal system inside and out. We can advise on decisions in your case (such as whether to plead “not guilty”), make deals with the prosecution, and represent you before federal or state court.


In law, the definition of a felony is a significant crime that comes with over a year of prison time. There are many types of felony charges (including Classes A through C), and a criminal defense lawyer can be your most valuable asset for all of them.

Facing a felony in Washington State? Clearwater Law Group is a full-service firm in the Tri-Cities, serving clients throughout Washington. Let’s work together to turn your case around. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.