What Is a Class B Felony in Washington State?
Aggravated first-degree murder, arguably the most serious crime in Washington State, stands alone in the criminal statutes. All other felonies are grouped in one of three classes, with Class A being the next most serious and Class C the least serious. Class B felonies include:
- Theft of property – more than $5,000
- Money laundering
- Abuse of a corpse – 1st degree
- Possession of body armor
- Drug distribution – cocaine
Maximum and Minimum Sentences
Washington uses an open-ended sentencing system for each of the three classes of felonies in the state. A Class B felony can be punished by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. The state also categorizes the seriousness of each crime, assigning a point total so that more serious crimes result in longer sentences. In addition, Washington has laws that give judges discretion to enhance sentencing if any of a number of aggravating circumstances is present.
While one side of Washington’s sentencing grid ranks the seriousness of the crime, the other side takes into account the defendant’s criminal history, assigning more points for a record of previous felonies, particularly violent crimes. For example, second degree rape of a child has a score of 11 while the crime of perjury is worth 5 points on the scale, indicating it is a less serious crime. A defendant ends up with a sentencing range based on the seriousness of the crime and criminal history. Judges must stay within this range unless aggravating or mitigating factors are present that make an exceptional sentence possible. Aggravating circumstances include the use of a deadly weapon, a crime committed as part of a criminal gang or a drug offense in a protected zone, among others.
Loss of Rights and Benefits
As soon as you are convicted you will lose the following rights in Washington:
- Hold state office
- Serve on a grand jury
- Own or possess a firearm
- Qualify for some licenses, permits to hold occupations in a variety of fields, particularly healthcare
A person convicted in the state of Washington of a Class B felony automatically regains the right to vote, serve on a jury and to run for public office when the sentence is completed. However, the right to own and possess a firearm is not automatically restored.
Employment and Housing with a Felony Record
Someone with a Class B conviction will have a difficult time competing for jobs in Washington with other applicants without a criminal record. That’s why relying on state and federal re-entry programs can often be the best way to get a job. For example, under the Washington Bonding Program, an employer is guaranteed to receive compensation for any losses related to the hiring of a felon for a six-month period. Some experts urge felons to start with the lowest-paying jobs in an effort to build some employer references. Finding housing is a similar challenge in the state because landlords – like employers – have access to criminal records and will often avoid people with felony convictions..
Clearing Your Record
There is no expungement law in Washington. The state has a law allowing the destruction of records in some cases. However, that law does not apply to criminal convictions of adults. Someone with a Class B conviction can request that the crime be vacated, which is similar to having a criminal record sealed. However, at least 10 years must have passed from the completion of the sentence – and no crime of violence or crime against persons can be vacated in Washington. The governor in the state does have the power to issue pardons, which restore all civil rights. Any felon who has completed his or her sentence can apply with the Washington State Clemency and Pardon Board. There is no set waiting period; however, pardons are rarely granted in the state. Generally, the crime must be older and less serious and the applicant must show compelling circumstances.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you should visit an attorney.