In Washington State, possession of stolen property is a crime that happens when you receive, have (possess), conceal, or destroy/discard stolen property. A variety of things will be considered when your case is reviewed by a lawyer or the courts, particularly the value of what you may have in your possession.Ultimately, the consequence for possession of stolen property in Washington State is tied to the value of the item in possession.
Degrees of possession of stolen property in Washington State
As is the case in many states, possession of stolen property (possession) in Washington State is separated into three different categories, called degrees. Each degree is determined by the value of the stolen item:
- Third-degree possession. The item is worth less than $750.
- Second-degree possession. The item is worth more than $750 but less than $5,000, or is an access device (e.g. a card, code, or other security device giving someone access to bank account or other private information).
- First-degree possession. The item is worth more than $5,000.
- Each degree has an associated maximimum sentence and/or fine.
Maximum sentences for possession of stolen property in Washington State
Each degree of possession is also considered a particular type of crime, such as a misdemeanor or a felony, by the courts. The maximum sentence for each degree of possession depends on the type of crime it is considered. It’s important to know that courts do not care if the person who actually stole the property has not been convicted, caught, or identified, and do not allow lawyers to use this reason as a defense for their clients who have been charged with possession.
- Third-degree possession. This is considered a gross misdemeanor (minor crime). If convicted of a gross misdemeanor, you can be given a maximum sentence of 365 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine (subject to change).
- Second-degree possession. This is considered a Class C felony (serious crime). If convicted of a Class C felony, you can be given a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine (subject to change).
- First-degree possession. This is considered a Class B felony. If convicted of a Class B felony, you can be given a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine (subject to change).
Keep in mind that these are the maximum sentences. If you are accused of any of these crimes but have little or no criminal history, it’s unlikely that you will receive the maximum sentence.
If you are accused of possession of stolen property in Washington State
If you are accused of possession of stolen property in Washington State, it’s advisable to contact an attorney in order to understand your options. Resolutions vary widely and include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Pleading guilty or not guilty.
- Being found guilty or not guilty if your case goes to trial.
- Asking for a deferral (in which case a guilty plea could be withdrawn if you meet certain conditions set by the court).
- Making an agreement (Stipulated Order of Continuance) with the prosecutor.
The last two options are often reserved for people with little or no criminal history.