Are you contending with a Virginia misdemeanor charge? Perhaps you’re facing a felony charge. Maybe you’ve been charged with a minor traffic violation.
Regardless of the situation, consider an attorney who knows Virginia law. Many defendants forgo a lawyer because they’re concerned about legal fees. However, representing yourself in court can cost you more in the long-run. Felony charges can carry lengthy prison sentences, misdemeanor offenses can carry jail time and hefty fines, and even minor traffic violations can result in a suspension of your driving privileges. If you’re charged with any offense, you should consult with an attorney.
This article will break down misdemeanor and felony classifications in Virginia. Let’s explore.
Misdemeanor charges in Virginia entail the following:
- Class 1: This is the most serious misdemeanor charge and can result in a 12-month jail sentence and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Typical charges include petit larceny, assault and battery, DUI, and reckless driving.
- Class 2: The Class 2 category is less serious but can come with a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. Charges include showing a fraudulent permit, possession of a controlled substance (Schedule IV), or driving without a valid license.
- Class 3: This class usually results in a fine of less than $500 and no jail time. These charges include driving without insurance or possession of a Schedule V substance
- Class 4: This is the lowest misdemeanor, and most traffic violations fall into this category. The fines usually amount to $250 or less. Violations consist of public intoxication, possession of a Schedule VI substance, or driving with an open container.
Misdemeanor Traffic Violations
Depending on the severity of the violation, certain traffic violations are criminal misdemeanors. You can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if you:
- Drive under the influence / Driving while intoxicated: A judge could sentence you to one year in jail (and may impose mandatory jail time depending on your blood alcohol content and prior record). You will also receive a fine between $250 and $2,500. Moreover, The Court will revoke your license for a year.
- Drive on a revoked license: You could receive a jail sentence up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500. Also, if you are convicted, the DMV will impose a license suspension.
- Drive on a suspended license: This action comes with the same sentence as driving on a revoked license. Additionally, the court could suspend your license for up to 90 days..
- Drive recklessly: You may get a reckless driving charge if you drive more than 20 mph over the speed limit, drive in excess of 85 miles per hour, or drive in a manner as to endanger life, limb, or property. In addition to Class 1 sentencing, your license could be suspended.
Repeat offenses can turn into felonies. For instance, driving on a revoked license for a third time results in a Class 6 felony.
Most serious criminal charges are felony offenses. A felony is defined as any offense for which the punishment is more than 12 months in jail. The felony structure in Virginia breaks down as follows:
- Class 1 Felony: Examples of Class 1 felonies include rape or murder. It also includes sexual abuse of a child under 15. The maximum penalties under a Class 1 system include life imprisonment, death, and/or fines up to $100,000.
- Class 2 Felony: A Class 2 felony includes first-degree murder. It also covers other violent crimes, such as kidnapping with the intention of extortion, burglary with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault to harm, and acts of terrorism. Sentences range from 20 years to a life sentence, and fines can run up to $100,000.
- Class 3 Felony: Class 3 felonies result in sentences between 5 to 20 years. You can also get a $100,000 fine. These charges typically apply in burglary or poisoning cases.
- Class 4 Felony: The sentences range from 2 to 10 years and fines up to $100,000. Offenses in this category include human trafficking, child abuse, bigamy, discharging a firearm at a car, or arson of an empty building.
- Class 5 Felony: You can get between 1 to 10 years in prison. The charges usually entail solicitation of a minor or credit card fraud. It can also cover voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
- Class 6 Felony: This category comes with sentences ranging from 1 to 5 years. Class 6 felony crimes include third offense larceny, DUI third offense, credit card fraud ($500 or more), domestic violence cases, or solicitation of a prostitute that’s 16 years or older.
Felony Traffic Violations
Whereas misdemeanors carry jail time, felonies warrant prison sentences. Officials reserve felony traffic violations for severe offenses. In many cases, a felony traffic charge is applicable if you kill or injure someone during an accident.
For instance, felony traffic violations are appropriate during hit-and-run cases, especially if the motorist kills or injures the victim. A hit-and-run charge turns into a felony depending on the following factors:
- If you were the passenger in the car
- The extent of the property damage
- If the victim was injured or killed
If you were the driver, for example, you could face a Class 5 felony if the accident resulted in injury and death. A Class 5 felony can get you between 1 to 10 years in prison. Additionally, a felony charge is appropriate if you caused more than $1,000 in property damage.
Conversely, you could face a Class 6 felony for the same charge if you were the passenger. A Class 6 felony can get you between 1 to 5 years in prison.
- Note: If the driver caused less than $2,000 of damage, misdemeanor charges will apply. Most likely, the driver will get a Class 1 misdemeanor, and a passenger will get a class 4 misdemeanor.
Moreover, multiple DUI offenses can transition into felonies. A third-time DUI offense carries is a felony that carries a sentence between 1 to 5 years in prison. If your third offense occurs within 5 years, you’ll get an automatic sentence of six months. Further, you could face a $1,000 fine and a three-year suspension of your license. You could get a 90-day sentence if you offend the third time within 10 years.
What Should I Do if I Face a Virginia Felony or Misdemeanor?
If you have a Virginia felony or misdemeanor, contact an attorney immediately. Even minor traffic violations may require the services of an attorney. A criminal or traffic attorney can fight for your rights.
Felony and misdemeanor charges come with the very real possibility of a jail sentence. An experienced attorney will explain the severity of your charge and work with you on the best possible defense.
Are you dealing with criminal charges? Click here to learn about the benefits of a criminal defense attorney.