In Washington, felony murder is defined in the first degree murder (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.32.030) and second degree murder statutes (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.32.050).

Prosecutors can charge and convict any person of murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed or attempted to commit another specified felony (first degree) or “any felony” (second degree) and that “in the course of or in furtherance of such crime or in immediate flight therefrom,” a death occurred.

People charged with felony murder in Washington can raise an “affirmative defense” that they weren’t the one who committed or aided in the commission of the homicide, weren’t armed, had “no reasonable grounds to believe” that any other participant was armed or “intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious physical injury.“ Affirmative defenses, however, are extremely difficult to prove.

A conviction for felony murder carries a sentence of a minimum of 20 years and maximum of life imprisonment for first degree murder, or a range of 0 years to life for second degree murder.

Analysis: Race

Race and Conviction Rate:

In Washington, you are 12.9625 times more likely to be incarcerated for felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 12.9625x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals account for only 4% of Washington’s population


They make up 17% of all incarcerated people


and 31% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


Analysis: Harsh Sentences

In total, there are 398 persons incarcerated for felony murder in Washington (comprising 15.27% of all murder convictions). Of these, 12 persons are serving of life.

The remaining 386 persons are sentenced to a cumulative

14,039 years in prison

Analysis: Impact on Youth

  • 31

    Median age of offense for all crimes.

  • 25

    Median age at offense for felony murder.

  • 43

    Persons incarcerated for felony murder in Washington were younger than 18 at the time of their offense.

    Of these young persons, 51.16% of them are Black.

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 3.8 / 5 (B)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

It took Washington state 113 days to respond to our FOIA request under the Washington Public Records Act Chapter 42.56 RCW with a CD-ROM at a cost of $1.31. The quality of the data ultimately delivered was among the highest in the country.

The CD-Rom contained Washington Department of Corrections (WADOC) data for people whose sentencing statute was listed as 9A.32.030(1)(c) or 9A.32.050(1)(b), and at a cost of $1.31. These specific subsections of the first and second degree murder statutes correspond to felony murder in Washington State, and were even specific to the underlying crime that was committed to warrant a felony murder conviction.

Access the Data

Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.