Felony vs. Misdemeanor: What are the Potential Differences in Penalties?

Potential Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors




A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor. In addition to potentially being sent to state prison, being convicted of a felony has other long-lasting effects including the loss of certain rights such as the right to vote, the right to own a gun, etc. You can also face travel restrictions and serious immigration consequences for non-citizens. Even more so than misdemeanors, felonies require a skilled and experienced attorney to really attack the state’s evidence head-on, form a well-rounded and thorough defense strategy, and ensure all your rights are protected.There are three classes of felonies:

Sentencing Guidelines

The Washington State Sentencing Guidelines provide standard sentencing ranges for felony offenses by essentially calculating a “score” for the offense. The primary factors used to determine the length of the sentence include the seriousness of the current offense(s) and your criminal history.

Judges typically stick to the sentencing ranges outlined by the guidelines, but can vary up or down when justified in exceptional cases, such as when there are statutory aggravating or mitigating factors present.  The Sentencing Guidelines are complicated and not easy to try and decipher yourself.  As always, we're happy to answer any questions you have related to them.




While misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, the consequences can still be devastating, including things like the potential loss of your license to drive, your job, and/or even your freedom. The good part about misdemeanors (compared to felonies) is that for many offenses, there are “alternative resolutions” available. Some of these programs include Deferred Prosecution, Stipulated Orders of Continuance, Pretrial Diversion, and Civil Compromises. No matter how minor the charge may appear on paper, we know it is very serious to you. Because of this, we approach misdemeanors in the same manner as felonies; we thoroughly prepare and take all the necessary steps to ensure you are receiving the best possible outcome. There are two types of misdemeanors: