Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for a Misdemeanor in Virginia?
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony, but it can still carry jail time and significant consequences if convicted. Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions, which typically do not result in any jail time. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you should still take it seriously. Retaining a Virginia criminal defense attorney is recommended even in cases that are classified as misdemeanors.
Virginia misdemeanors are separated into four different classes. Class 1 is the most serious while Class 4 is the least serious. Sometimes all that separates a felony from a misdemeanor is the value of the property stolen or how many prior offenses are on your record.
Class 1 Misdemeanors
Crimes that can fall under a Class 1 misdemeanor include:
- DUI — Driving under the influence of alcohol with BAC of 0.08 or more or DWI (driving while intoxicated) involving a lower BAC or drugs
- Reckless Driving — Driving 20 mph or more over the speed limit, or over 80 mph no matter what the speed limit is
- Domestic Assault — Violence or threats of violence or harm against a family member or household member
- Assault and Battery — Assault is an intent to harm even if there is no contact, while battery is the act of causing physical harm.
- Petit Larceny — Theft of goods, including shoplifting; value usually under $200, otherwise it could be charged as felony
These misdemeanors can result in jail time of up to one year and/or a fine not to exceed $2,500. Convictions involving DUI can result in a suspension of driving privileges and more.
Class 2 Misdemeanors
Crimes that fall under Class 2 misdemeanors can include:
- Possession of Class IV drugs
- Aggressive driving
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
Sentences for Class 2 misdemeanors can include up to six months in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
Class 3 and 4 Misdemeanors
Penalties for Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors are the least serious and do not include any jail time. Possession of Class V controlled substances or property destruction could be Class 3 misdemeanors while an example of a Class 4 misdemeanor would be public intoxication.
The fine for a Class 3 misdemeanor is not to exceed $500, and a Class 4 misdemeanor conviction is a fine not to exceed $250.
Class U Misdemeanors
There is also something called a Class U misdemeanor, which is one that is not classified. However, it can be more serious than Class 3 or 4 misdemeanors and result in jail time. One example of a Class U misdemeanor is possession of marijuana if it is your first offense. You could spend a maximum of 30 days in jail and be fined up to $500.
Why You Need a Skilled Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
It’s not recommended to represent yourself when you are charged with a crime, no matter whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor. Having a criminal record can harm you in the long run, impacting your ability to get a job, causing you to pay more in car insurance, etc.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a misdemeanor, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation. Let one of our skilled attorneys prepare the best defense possible in hopes of getting the charges further reduced or even dismissed entirely.