There are two distinct classes of crimes in Virginia. The first are misdemeanors and the second are felonies. Misdemeanors are classified as minor crimes where on the other hand felonies are considered serious and the two different classes are treated very differently.
Misdemeanors are broken down into various classes. They range from class one to class four. A class one misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine, either or both. A class two misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1000, either or both. A class three misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to a $500 fine but does not include the possibility of jail time and a class four misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to a $250 fine but does not include the possibility of jail time.
Misdemeanors can be charged by either a summons, such as a ticket for a driving offense or by a warrant. In the case of a summons you will probably be issued the summons and be allowed to leave after signing it with your promise to appear in court. Generally they are given for class three and four misdemeanors but can also be issued for class one and two misdemeanors. A summons does not state the class of offense committed.
You may also be charged through the issuance of an arrest warrant and generally these are issued for more serious misdemeanors such as class one or two. Warrants are issued by a magistrate or a judge as opposed to an officer with a summons and state on the face of the warrant the class of offense committed. A warrant usually results in the defendant being taken into custody and being held in jail until brought before a judge or being released after appearing before a magistrate and being given a bond.
Felonies are divided into six classes. A class one felony is very serious and if the person is 18 years or older can carry a penalty of death or of life in prison along with up to a $100,000 fine. A class two felony carries a possibility of up to life in prison but not less than 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. A class three felony carries up to 20 years in prison but not less than 5 years and a fine of up to $100,000. A class four felony carries up to 10 years in prison but not less than 2 years and a fine of up to $100,000. A class five felony carries up to 10 years in prison but not less than 1 year or at the discretion of the judge or jury up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. A class six felony carries up to 5 years in prison but not less than 1 year and at the discretion of the judge or jury up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. There is also a felony that is unclassified which means that for that specific offense the penalty is indicated within the statute for the crime. An example of this is Grand Larceny which carries up to 20 years in prison but not less than 1 year.
Felonies are always by warrant and usually result in incarceration until brought before a judge for a determination of whether bond will be given. Felony warrants will indicate the class of the offense on the face of the warrant.
As can be seen, all but class three and four misdemeanors are punishable by jail, and sometimes significant prison time as well as a fine that can be extremely high. If you are charged with a crime it is important to consult a competent attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for the circumstances of your case. Attorney Michael S Davis is very experienced at handling criminal and serious traffic matters, and will afford you immediate and individual attention in providing you representation in handling your case.