Minor in Possession (MIP) and Minor in Consumption (MIC) Penalties
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We have helped many people who are in a similar situation to you fight their charges.
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A Washington State MIC charge is a gross-misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by up to a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine.
Most people convicted of MIC do not receive the maximum penalties. In fact, most people convicted of MIC do not serve any jail time at all but may be required to pay fines, costs, and receive other burdensome conditions of probation. However, only an experienced attorney can accurately advise you of what you might be facing on your MIC case.
In addition to jail time and fines, MIC cases can cause a license suspension. Learn more about Licensing Consequences
Washington State MIP Statute
Washington State criminal penalties are governed by statutes which are written and passed by the Washington State Legislature. These statutes (laws) can be found in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). Washington cities and counties may adopt the criminal laws found in the RCWs or they may draft their own versions in a municipal or county code.
These statutes not only define what conduct is considered a Washington crime and the possible punishments that a judge could impose. For some crimes, the legislature has given judges a great deal of discretion in sentencing. However, for other types of crimes like driving under the influence and felonies, the legislature has limited the discretion of judges and written laws that require a minimum sentence or a sentence within a specific range.
Washington State criminal penalties are divided into two general categories -- misdemeanors and felonies which are defined at RCW 9A.20.021.
Misdemeanor crimes are filed in District and Municipal Court while felonies are filed in Superior court.
All MIPs and MICs are gross-misdemeanors and not felonies. Gross misdemeanors carry penalties of 0 - 364 days in jail and $0 - $5,000 fine.
Alcohol Drug Evaluation:
Some judges (but not all) will require chemical dependency evaluation for an MIP or MIC. We have found that judges are very impressed when our clients take the proactive step of obtaining this evaluation early in the process. This shows the judge that you have taken the incident seriously and want to take appropriate steps to avoid any future problems. This is true even if the evaluation determines that you do not have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
We are happy to refer our clients to appropriate treatment professionals who are both well respected by the courts and will give fair and trusted evaluations. Learn more about Treatment Options
Alcohol or Drug Treatment:
If a drug or alcohol evaluation does recommend some level of treatment, we suggest that our clients enroll in and complete the recommendations as soon as possible. Starting and completing any recommended treatment prior to sentencing can help you avoid being placed on active probation by the court (potentially saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars in probation fees). In addition to avoiding active probation, prompt enrollment in any recommended treatment shows the judge that you have taken the case seriously and are not likely to be back before the court due to sentence violations.
Typically, we see the following categories of recommended counseling:
- No significant problem: If a professional determines that you do not have a significant issue with drugs or alcohol, they will recommend an 8 hour alcohol and drug information school. For any DUI related case this class will be a minimum requirement by the court. You can attend this class on a weekend in one day.
- Abuse: If a professional determines that there are issues with drug or alcohol abuse in your life, they will typically recommend somewhere between 6 months to 1 year of treatment, generally once a week for an initial stage of several months and then follow-up one time per month.
- Dependent: If a professional determines that you are drug or alcohol dependent they will generally recommend an intensive outpatient program. Such a program can range from 1 to 2 years of treatment with 72 hours of intensive outpatient treatment over the first 8 weeks and then gradually decrease over three stages. You will generally be required to attend self help meetings (like “AA” or other sober support) during this period of time.
Learn more about Treatment and Counseling options.
In some courts and with some offenses the judge will convert jail and/or fines to community service. Jail is often converted at 8-20 hours of community service to one day in jail. Fines are often converted at $10 per hour of community service. We typically know which courts will do this and can talk to you about it when we meet. Community service can be done at any non-profit organization in Washington State. The courts require proof of community service hours completed on official agency letterhead. The letter must be signed by a supervisor and include the number of hours worked and if possible, what work was done.
In some cases it is appropriate to provide the court with letters of recommendation or character references. We can help advise you on this and help your friends and family draft an appropriate and persuasive letter on your behalf.
While we will be speaking on your behalf at sentencing, you also have the right to speak directly to the judge about yourself and the case. We are happy to help guide you through this process. We generally recommend making any statement short (a paragraph or less) and heartfelt. In our experience we have found that judges like it when people take responsibility for their actions and apologize for any indiscretions. A sentencing is definitely not the time to dispute the charges or argue about the facts of the case. Of course, you are not required to speak on your own behalf and many people reasonably feel uncomfortable doing so. If you would feel more comfortable, you may chose to write a brief letter to the judge instead of speaking in public. We work very hard to present a positive picture of our clients at sentencing and point out things such as family life, employment, and good works with the community.