If you’re accused of violating the law in Virginia, you may be wondering if you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is what the potential range of punishments are. In general, a misdemeanor only carries jail up to 12 months, and a felony carries possible prison of MORE than one year.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Virginia
Misdemeanors in Virginia can carry a wide variety of possible punishments. To determine what exactly your punishment could be, you need to know what class your offense falls under.
There are four different classes of misdemeanors: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4. There are also “unclassified” misdemeanors, which just mean that they don’t fit into any of the predefined groups.
If you’re charged by a warrant, it will normally list the class of misdemeanor right on the front. Otherwise, you can find out what class you’re under by researching the offense or – better yet – talking with a defense lawyer. Virginia law sets out the punishments for each class.
The authorized punishments for conviction of a misdemeanor in Virginia are:
- For Class 1 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
- For Class 2 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both.
- For Class 3 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $500.
- For Class 4 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $250.
Examples of Virginia Misdemeanor Offenses
- Class 1 misdemeanors include offenses such as DWI, reckless driving, and shoplifting.
- Class 2 misdemeanors include driving with a valid license (first offense).
- Class 3 misdemeanors include unintentional damage to property or monuments.
- Class 4 misdemeanors include drinking while driving and public swearing / intoxication.
Both misdemeanors and felonies are crimes in Virginia, so if you’re charged with either one, you should definitely find the best lawyer for your case. Misdemeanors and felonies become part of your permanent criminal history.
Penalties for Felony Charges in Virginia
Felonies in Virginia are defined as any offense that carries more than 1 year in prison as a possible punishment. Depending upon the specific felony in question, your potential prison sentence could range from 1 year to life.
Virginia felonies are categorized into classes from a Class 6 felony being the least punishments to a Class 1 felony being the most possible punishments. Many offenses are classified based on the harm that the crime commits or the amount of damage that is done.
For example, a hit and run charge in Virginia could be anything from a Class 4 misdemeanor for the most minor violation, all the way to a Class 5 felony (if someone is injured or there is over $1,000 damage to attended property).
The authorized punishments for conviction of a felony in Virginia are:
- For a Class 1 felony, confinement in prison for life, and a fine of not more than $100,000. The death penalty is possible if the convicted person is 18 years or older.
- For Class 2 felony, confinement in prison for life is possible. 20 year minimum prison sentence and a fine of not more than $100,000.
- For Class 3 felony, up to 20 years in prison. 5 year minimum prison sentence and a fine of not more than $100,000.
- For Class 4 felony, up to 10 years in prison. 2 year minimum prison sentence and a fine of not more than $100,000.
- For Class 5 felony, up to 10 years in prison. 1 year minimum prison sentence and a fine of not more than $2,500.
- For Class 6 felony, up to 5 years in prison. 1 year minimum prison sentence and a fine of not more than $2,500.
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