Misdemeanor Criminal Offense
Under Washington law, the legislature designates minor offenses as “misdemeanors” and “gross misdemeanors.” A misdemeanor is a criminal offense where the maximum penalty is 90 days jail and a fine of no more than $1000. A gross misdemeanor is an offense where the maximum penalty is 364 days in jail and a fine of $5000. Typically the court will impose a small amount of jail time and will suspend the balance of the time and hold it over a person’s head as a condition of probation.
While a misdemeanor may not yield as much of a penalty as a felony, these matters are still taken seriously by criminal lawyers because a even a misdemeanor offense can look bad on a person’s criminal record. In the age of the internet, a person need not visit the courthouse to review a criminal record. Rather, criminal records are merely “on click away” as many background check companies advertise their services online.
Examples of criminal offenses that are misdemeanors include underage possession of marijuana, driving while suspended, disorderly conduct, or trespassing on to another person’s land. Example of gross misdemeanors include DUI, Assault, Shoplifting, etc.