Infractions are what people would commonly refer to as “tickets.” In Washington State, infractions are not crimes. This means jail is not a potential punishment for an infraction. Since infractions are not crimes, you cannot be found “guilty.” Instead, a judge must determine that you “committed” the infraction. This might be a little confusing for some individuals, especially some who have recently moved to our state. Many things that Washington categorizes as infractions are considered crimes technically in other states.
Washington’s designation of certain acts as infractions can cut both ways. While it is nice to know that you are not going to be found “guilty” of a crime, the drawback is that the state’s burden of proof is much lower. This means it is easier to prove you committed an infraction versus proving you committed a crime. To find you guilty, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. This standard would be close to 99 percent. Alternatively, the burden of proof for an infraction is by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely than not (think 51 percent).
The most common infractions you can face are speeding tickets and parking tickets. Both would be categorized as traffic infractions, but only the speeding ticket is considered a moving violation. Other infractions not considered traffic could be walking a dog without a leash or a noise ordinance violation.
If you have questions about an infraction you recently received or are concerned about the infraction going on your record and potentially impacting your insurance rates, do not hesitate to call our Seattle, WA office. We are more than happy to talk about your options and answer your questions. Our experienced attorneys can also fight to keep the infraction off of your record!