Dismissing Property Cases: The Compromise of Misdemeanor

Are you facing a property crime of Hit and Run, Malicious Mischief, Shoplifting and/or Theft? This legal guide explains how your attorney can get the charges dismissed via a statutory resolution called a Compromise of Misdemeanor.

What is a Compromise of Misdemeanor?

Under RCW 10.22, certain misdemeanor crimes can be “compromised” with a dismissal. The procedure to obtain a “compromise of misdemeanor” requires the victim to provide a written acknowledgment – usually in the form of a signed declaration – that s/he has been compensated for their injury. If the victim provides such an acknowledgement, the court has discretion to dismiss the misdemeanor. The policy behind the compromise of misdemeanor statute is to promote making the victim whole again through restitution, avoid prosecution for minor offenses, and vesting discretion with the trial court to dismiss where a compromise has been reached by all parties involved. Therefore, a compromise of misdemeanor may be an excellent resolution. The key requirement is that the injured party must “acknowledge in writing that he or she has received satisfaction for the injury.”

What Kinds of Cases Can Be Compromised?

The Compromise of Misdemeanor applies to RCW 9A.56.050 Shoplifting, RCW 9A.56.050 Theft Third Degree, RCW 46.52.020 Hit and Run Attended, RCW 46.52.010 Hit and Run Unattended, RCW 9A.48.090 Malicious Mischief and many other criminal charges involving property. However, the compromise of misdemeanor is NOT an option for defendants who are charged with criminal street gang tagging and graffiti, or when the offense is committed (1) by or upon an officer; (2) “riotously”; (3) with an intent to commit a felony; or (4) is a crime of domestic violence committed by one family or household member against another.

Are Compromises of Misdemeanors Difficult to Obtain?

Sometimes, yes. Many victims can become very upset with defendants who attempted to drive away from the scene of an incident and/or destroy property. Also, large “big box” department stores try their best to prosecute shoplifters to the fullest extent of the law, and are unwilling to enter into a compromise of misdemeanor unless a civil demand – usually, a $500 – $1,000 fine – is paid in full. Attorneys working these cases can sometimes get larger department stores to agree to the compromise of misdemeanor once the civil fine is paid. Ultimately, the compromise of misdemeanor statute may provide a good avenue for the defendant and defense attorney to get a case dismissed thereby avoiding a conviction that may haunt the defendant for the rest of his or her life. If the alleged victim of the petty offense has time to cool off after the incident–he or she may be willing to accept money, compromise, and settle the matter without pressing charges. Good luck!

Additional resources provided by attorney Alexander Ransom: