Felonies are Virginia's most serious crimes. These are tried in the Circuit Court in front of a judge or jury, and the Commonwealth's prosecutor must prove your guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Defendants face long prison sentences and significant fines if convicted, so these charges should not be taken lightly. Virginia has six felony classes, each with different penalties based on the seriousness of the crime.
Class 1 felonies are the most serious offenses. Capital murder is a Class 1 felony, and defendants may face the death penalty if convicted. Other potential punishments include life in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Class 2 felonies are very serious crimes and usually violent in nature. Second-degree murder and manslaughter are both Class 2 felonies. Other crimes that fall into this classification are aggravated malicious wounding; armed burglary; abduction with intent to extort money or for immoral purpose; and bank robbery. Punishments include 20 years to life in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Class 3 felonies are not always violent in nature, but generally involve placing another person in danger or causing damage to property. These crimes include conspiring to commit a Class 1 or Class 2 felony; commercial sex trafficking of a minor; malicious wounding; and unarmed burglary. Punishments include five to 20 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Class 4 felonies include both violent and white-collar crimes. Crimes that fall into this classification include burning an unoccupied dwelling, pimping, embezzling public funds, discharging a firearm in a school, and actively participating in a gang with at least one minor. Punishments include 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
Class 5 felonies are called "wobblers" because the crime may be a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the circumstances, the defendant's criminal history, and how the judge or Grand Jury chooses to charge the defendant. Drug crimes, battery, involuntary manslaughter, perjury, and kidnapping fall into this classification. Punishments include one to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.
Like Class 5 felonies, Class 6 felonies are "wobblers" because the crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Smuggling cigarettes for the purpose of evading state taxes; animal cruelty; violation of a court order; and reckless endangerment fall into this classification. Punishments include one to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.
Have You Been Charged With a Felony in Virginia?
If you have been charged with a felony, you could be facing a long prison sentence and a hefty fine that can devastate your finances. A conviction may mean that you can no longer legally own a firearm, vote, access government benefits, or finance student loans. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your future.
The attorneys at S.L. England, PLLC, have the courtroom experience to present the strongest defense to the judge or the jury. If you have been charged with a felony in Virginia or Washington, D.C., call us today at (202) 489-0720 or contact us online.