Classifications of Criminal Charges

Classifications of Criminal Charges

Defense for Felony Charges

If you are arrested on a felony warrant in Virginia, you have a statutory right to a preliminary hearing. If you have been indicted for a felony in Virginia, then you will proceed to trial in the circuit court.

Felonies in Virginia come in six (6) separate classes. The class represents the range of punishment. If you review the warrant, it will tell you what class felony you are facing.

You can see the corresponding punishments below:

  • Class 1—death, life in the penitentiary and/or a fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 2—20 years in the penitentiary, fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 3—5-20 years in the penitentiary, fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 4—2-10 years in the penitentiary, fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 5—1-10 years in the penitentiary, or jail up to 12 months and/or $2,500 fine
  • Class 6 – 1-5 years in the penitentiary, or jail up to 12 months and/or $2000 fine

* Note: The classification system does not apply to juveniles brought to trial in juvenile court.

Defense for Misdemeanor Charges

If you are charged with a misdemeanor in Virginia, you will be given a trial date. If the misdemeanor charge carries a possibility of jail time, then you have a right to a lawyer. The court can appoint a lawyer for you, but you cannot choose that person.

Misdemeanors in Virginia are divided into four (4) classes:

  • Class 1—up to 12 months in jail, $2,500 fine
  • Class 2—up to 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine
  • Class 3—$500 fine
  • Class 4—$250 fine

Contact Carroll & Nuttall, PLLC for Criminal Defense Services in Fairfax

If you find yourself facing criminal charges of any nature, do not wait to obtain legal representation. The sooner you involve an attorney, the better chance you stand against the charges that have been made against you.

We accept same-day appointments. Call our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers at (703) 952-5801 or contact us online to get started.

Anatomy of a DUI Trial

Four challenges that can be used in your defense during any DUI trial are:

  1. Stop—The government must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle. If the court says no, then your case is thrown out.
  2. Probable Cause to Arrest—The judge, as an objective fact-finder, must be satisfied that prior to arrest the evidence (driving behavior, admissions, field tests, etc.) indicate that it’s more probable than not the accused drove or operated while intoxicated. If there is not sufficient evidence to support this, then your case may be dismissed.
  3. Blood Alcohol Analysis Admissibility—Depending on whether a breath or blood sample was taken, Carroll & Nuttall, PLLC can present arguments to the judge to render the BAC inadmissible.
  4. Reasonable Doubt—At the end of the government’s case and the defense’s case, the judge has to be satisfied that the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt. If any doubt remains, you should not be convicted.

DUI in Virginia / Reckless Driving in Virginia

Virginia’s DUI laws are some of the toughest in the nation. It is important to have an experienced advocate help you through the trial process.

Between the legislative sessions of 2003 and 2004, the Virginia General Assembly raised the stakes for those charged with DUI. In 2003, an individual convicted of DUI in the Commonwealth of Virginia would need to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 before a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days was imposed. In 2004, this changed: An individual convicted of DUI with a BAC of .15 was mandated to serve a mandatory minimum five-day jail sentence. That same individual with a .21 BAC must serve a mandatory minimum ten-day jail sentence.

In every legislative session since, the DUI laws and procedures have been changed to make it tougher on those charged. In addition, tougher laws are accompanied by tougher enforcement. If you find yourself charged with a DUI, contact a criminal defense lawyer with experience.

Reckless Driving in Virginia

DUI and reckless driving are often connected, but in many instances have nothing to do with each other. Many times, a DUI can be reduced to a reckless driving charge by agreement between the government and your lawyer.

Reckless driving can be charged for someone that an officer believes is driving in a manner which endangers life, limb or property (Va. Code Section 46.2-852).

Reckless driving can be charged for someone in all of these situations:

  • Faulty Brakes—Va. Code § 46.2-853
  • Passing on Crest of a Grade or Curve—Va. Code § 46.2-854
  • Driving with View Obstructed—Va. Code § 46.2-855
  • Passing Two Vehicles Abreast—Va. Code § 46.2-856
  • Driving Two Abreast in a Single Lane—Va. Code § 46.2-857
  • Passing at a Railroad Crossing—Va. Code § 46.2-858
  • Passing a Stopped School Bus—Va. Code § 46.2-859
  • Failure to Give Proper Signal—Va. Code § 46.2-860
  • Driving Too Fast for Conditions—Va. Code § 46.2-861
  • Reckless Driving in Parking Lot—Va. Code § 46.2-864

The connection between all of these offenses is that they constitute reckless driving, which means they carry a maximum jail sentence of up to 12 months and a maximum license loss of six months. A conviction for reckless driving is a six-demerit-point offense with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

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