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Differences Between Classes of Felony and Misdemeanor Criminal Charges

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When you are charged with a crime, the consequences you face depend on the seriousness of the offense. Defending yourself becomes more difficult as the seriousness of the charge increases. Some charges are minor and only require a fine to be paid, while other charges could end in jail time or worse. This is why it’s important to understand the exact crime with which you are charged as well as the degree of the charge. Is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

Understanding the Seriousness of Your Charge

Violations of criminal law are categorized into two degrees of seriousness in Virginia: misdemeanors and felonies. Within those two categories are classes of charges, each carrying a different maximum sentence.

A misdemeanor charge in Virginia carries the following potential sentences:

  • Class 1. The most serious misdemeanor, this class includes crimes such as domestic violence and carrying a gun without a permit. Conviction can result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Class 2. Drug possession is an example of a Class 2 misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Class 3 and 4. These minor charges result in fines but no jail time.

There are six classes of felony in Virginia, with sentences ranging from a year in jail to life imprisonment or death.

  • Class 1. Including rape and murder, these are the most serious crimes in the Virginia criminal code. Sentences include death, life imprisonment, and fines of up to $100,000.
  • Class 2. Crimes in this classification include manslaughter and kidnapping and can result in jail terms of 20 years to life and fines of up to $100,000.
  • Class 3. Drug crimes are among the list of Class 3 felonies. Jail terms range from five to 20 years and fines can be up to $100,000.
  • Class 4. With jail times ranging from two to ten years, Class 4 crimes include tax and other white collar crimes. Fines can also be as high as $100,000.
  • Class 5 and 6. Crimes in these categories can often be treated as misdemeanors depending on how the suspect is charged. Sentences can be anywhere from one year to ten years in jail and fines of $2,500.

Protecting Yourself and Your Future

No matter what the charge, if you’re innocent of a crime you shouldn’t have to suffer any consequences—minor or not. Let us help you build a strong defense and avoid any potential backlash a false charge could cause you and your family. Remember, criminal convictions (no matter how severe) will permanently remain on your record and could affect your future. Don’t let that happen. Call us today at 703-865-6610, and see how we can help resolve your case.

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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