Breaking and entering into a structure for the purpose of committing another crime is considered burglary. Traditionally, burglary applies to any type of structure, from a building to a motor home. However, in Washington State, there’s a more specific criminal act focused on entering a vehicle with the purpose of committing a crime, known as vehicle prowling.

Are First Degree and Second Degree Vehicle Prowling Defined Differently in Washington State?

No. In Washington, a defendant is guilty of this crime when they enter or remains in a vehicle with the intent to commit a property crime, such as theft, or a crime against a person, such as assault.

What the Difference between Being Charged with Vehicle Prowling in the First and Second Degree?

The difference between a charge of first degree vs. second degree vehicle prowling depends on the vehicle. If the boat or vehicle has sleeping quarters or could be lived in, then a defendant charged with first degree vehicle prowling. Second degree is charged when there’s no cooking facilities or sleeping quarters in the vehicle. 

A first degree charge is a class C felony and a second degree charge is a gross misdemeanor.

What is the Punishment for Vehicle Prowling in Washington State?

A charge of first degree vehicle prowling is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. For a charge of vehicle prowling in the second degree, a defendant can face a punishment of less than 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Case?


Yes. Contact a Washington lawyer to understand more about possible defenses and getting the charge dropped or reduced.