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Penalties and Jail Alternatives for Washington State VUCSA or Drug Crimes.
Penalties for Washington State VUCSA or Drug crimes are outlined in RCW 69.50 - (Uniform Controlled Substances Act) and can be very complicated.
It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the specific penalty you may be facing on your case and to discuss your options.
Washington Misdemeanor VUCSA Crimes:
While possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is legal in Washington state for adults, possession of more than one ounce but less than 40 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of any marijuana by a person under age 21 is also unlawful. A person under age 21 in possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana faces a misdemeanor charge. Possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana is a class C felony.
For people under age 21 convicted of possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana there is an additional penalty of a 1 year driver's license revocation.
Washington Felony VUCSA Crimes:
Other Washington VUCSA crimes are more serious and range from class C felonies (the least serious) to class A felonies (the most serious). Such felonies have the following maximum sentences in Washington:
- Class C Felony: 5 years in jail and a $10,000.00 fine.
- Class B Felony: 10 years in jail and a $20,000.00 fine.
- Class A Felony: Life in prison and a $50,000.00 fine.
These guidelines provide a formula that judges use to calculate the amount of jail time you will receive based on your criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.
Other Penalty Issues
Financial Aid for Students:
A conviction for a Washington VUCSA or drug crime may disqualify you from Federal Student Financial Aid. It is important to inform your attorney if you are currently receiving federal student loans or hope to in the future.
Protected Zone: Enhancements to the presumptive sentence range are required for certain Washington VUSCA crimes that occur in a protected zone (for example, within 1000 feet of a school). RCW 69.50.435
Presence of Child: The penalties for some VUCSA crimes may be enhanced if the crime occurred while a person under the age of 18 was present. RCW 9.94A.605.
Correctional Facility: If a Washington VUCSA crime is committed while in a county or state correctional facility, additional jail time may be added to the presumptive sentence.
Sale of Drugs to Minor: Individuals charged with the sale of a drug to a minor at least three years younger than the offender face an enhanced penalty. RCW 69.50.406.
Firearm/Deadly Weapon Enhancements: Additionally, jail sentences can be dramatically increased if the court finds that the Washington VUCSA crime was committed while in possession of a firearm or deadly weapon.
If you are accused of a Washington Drug or VUCSA crime you may qualify for several jail alternative programs. Generally, these alternatives focus on your rehabilitation for drug addiction.
Drug Courts: Some courts in Washington operate "drug court" programs. For example, within Washington State there are drug courts operating in King, Pierce, Spokane, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima counties. Drug courts are generally pre-sentencing programs that could provide you with the opportunity to receive drug treatment in lieu of jail and possibly have your case dismissed.
If you choose to participate in a Washington drug court program you must meet specific eligibility requirements. The court will then require you to attend drug treatment, undergo random urinalysis, and appear before the judge on a regular basis. If you fulfill your commitment and meet the program requirements, the charges against you will be dismissed. If you fail to comply with the court's conditions you are terminated from the program and sentenced on your original charge.
DOSA: The Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, or "DOSA", program is a post-sentencing program that can reduce your incarceration time by up to 50%. DOSA converts your remaining jail time to Community Supervision and outpatient treatment monitoring so that the second half of your sentence can be spent out of custody.