In most states, including Virginia, crimes are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. A felony is the most serious type of crime a person can commit, and if convicted, is punishable by state imprisonment and in the most severe cases, the death penalty. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. Being convicted of a misdemeanor can mean fines of up to $2,500 and a maximum jail-time in a local Virginia prison of one year.
However, even though the punishments for misdemeanor charges are less harsh, a misdemeanor conviction can have negative repercussions on the rest of your life. If you or a loved one has been charged with a misdemeanor, it’s important to understand what’s at stake and to consult a criminal defense attorney in your area for assistance.
The four types of misdemeanors
In Virginia, misdemeanors can be classified into 4 categories. Listed below are the four types of misdemeanors, some examples of each and their punishments:
- Class 1. This is the most serious type of misdemeanor and includes crimes such as but not limited to domestic battery, DUI, reckless driving and petit larceny. The maximum punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor convictionis a one-year jail sentence and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
- Class 2. Some examples of Class 2 misdemeanors include the possession of Class IV drugs, paraphernalia and aggressive driving. The maximum penalty if convicted is up to six months in local prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
- Class 3. These crimes are less serious. Common examples include destruction of property or possession of Class V controlled substances. It cannot be punished with incarceration and the maximum fine is $500.
- Class 4. Public intoxication is often classified as a Class 4 misdemeanor. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $250.
While not all punishments for misdemeanors are severe, remember that a misdemeanor charge can stay on your criminal record, which is permanently available to the public. This can make finding future employment difficult, among other things. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight a misdemeanor charge or if you’ve already been convicted, work to have the charge expunged from your record.
Skilled criminal defense attorneys in Northern Virginia
Eric Clingan at the NoVa Law Firm is a skilled criminal defense attorney serving clients in Fairfax, Virginia. With over 20 years of experience, he has handled all levels of criminal defense cases and can offer you knowledgeable legal counsel and an aggressive defense. If you or a loved one has been accused of a misdemeanor in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, call (703) 352-9347 today or contact us online for a consultation.