In the District of Columbia, crimes are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by death or imprisonment in federal prison. Less serious crimes (misdemeanors) are punishable by up to one year in jail.
For more information on misdemeanors in the District of Columbia, see District of Columbia Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In most states, lawmakers divide felonies into classes, such as “Class A felonies” or “level 1 felonies,” and each class has its own sentence or range of sentences. In Washington, DC, lawmakers fix punishment on a crime-by-crime basis. For example, in DC, assault with intent to kill is punishable by two to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Possession of more than one half pound of marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
For more information, see District of Columbia Marijuana Laws.
If DC lawmakers fail to designate a punishment for a particular crime, it is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to 5 years in federal prison, or both. (DC Code § 22-1807.)
Statute of Limitations
Most crimes have a time limit, called a statute of limitations, by which the state or the district must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. The statute of limitations begins to “run” when the crime is committed. In the District of Columbia, felonies have a statute of limitations of at least six years, although many felonies have longer statutes of limitations or no statute of limitations at all.
For more information, see Washington DC Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Criminal convictions have serious consequences. Aside from time in prison and fines, criminal convictions can make it difficult to obtain a job, buy a gun, or qualify for certain government benefits. If you are charged with any crime, you should talk to a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney about your case. An attorney can help you understand your options and protect your rights.