Being charged with a crime can be frightening, especially if it's a first-time offense or if you're unfamiliar with the local judicial system. People are often falsely accused of offenses they didn't commit. Contacting a skilled criminal defense lawyer is the best course of action if you are being accused of a crime. Doing this will increase the likelihood that your case will be successful. Whether you've been charged for the first time or have had prior convictions, we at the Virginia Criminal Attorney in Middleburg will defend you to possibly have the charges against you dropped or reduced.
Virginia's Criminal Offense Classifications
According to Virginia law, most offenses are either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious violations that have shorter jail sentences and lower fines, while felonies are offenses that carry hefty fines and lengthier prison sentences. Some "special" offenses are not included in this refined classification and could be subject to varying potential penalties based on the circumstances. If you need help understanding the consequences of your case, your Middleburg criminal defense attorney should be able to help.
Misdemeanor Offenses Categories
Under Virginia laws, there are four distinct classes of misdemeanors, two of which can lead to imprisonment in addition to the possibility of a monetary punishment. The maximum punishments that can be applied in Middleburg for various misdemeanor classes are as follows, under Title 18.2-11:
- Class 1 misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of one year and a $2,500 fine.
- Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 along with a jail sentence of six months.
- Class 3 misdemeanor offenses are punishable by a $500 maximum fine.
- Class 4 misdemeanor offenses are punishable by a maximum $250 fine.
In addition, starting July 1, 2020, the possession of an ounce or less of cannabis for individual consumption ceased to be a misdemeanor, but a civil offense punishable by a fine of no less than $25.
Felony Offense Categories
Virginia state law classifies felonies into six categories, each of which has a range of possible punishments depending on the seriousness and type of unlawful act. If convicted of a felony offense covered by Title 18.2-10 of the Virginia Code, the offender faces the possible outcomes listed below.
- Under Virginia law, a person who commits a Class 1 felony while under the age of 18 or who has a mental impairment as specified in Section 19.2-264.3:1.1 is not eligible for a life term or a death sentence.
- Class 2 felonies carry minimum sentences of twenty years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison.
- If convicted of a Class 3 Felony, you face between five and 20 years in jail.
- Class 4 felonies carry a possible prison sentence of between 2 and 10 years.
- Class 5 felonies can result in sentences ranging from one to 10 years behind bars, with the judge having the option to impose a one-year jail term.
- Offenses classified as category 6 felonies have the possibility of a prison sentence that can range from 1 to 5 years, with an additional possibility of a one-year jail term at the discretion of the court.
Additionally, a criminal court has the power to hand down a monetary penalty of $2,500 in the case of Class 5 or 6 felonies, in addition to having the ability to issue monetary fines of up to $100,000 for the more serious felony classes if they are proven to have been committed.
Felony Versus Misdemeanor Charges
The distinctions that can be made between felony and misdemeanor offenses in Middleburg are very comparable to those that can be made between these two types of infractions anywhere else in Virginia.
Because of how the Virginia code is laid out, certain crimes are labeled as felonies, while others are considered to be misdemeanors. This distinction is created based on the severity of the offenses.
The District Attorney handles felony prosecution very differently from its handling of misdemeanors. Felonies, including nonviolent ones, carry a wide range of consequences and require the defendant to go through a complex judicial process.
For a misdemeanor, you might spend no more than one year behind bars and pay a maximum fine of $2,500. On the other hand, for felonies, you could spend a lot more time in prison.
You must speak with a Middleburg criminal defense lawyer since, depending on the exact charges that are made against you, felonies can carry life sentences and large fines.
Despite being less serious charges than felonies, misdemeanor convictions can nonetheless have a wide range of long-term effects, especially if the defendants have security clearances.
Under some conditions, the defendant might have to disclose such information to potential employers or while undergoing a record check, depending on the regulations that apply to their particular company or government agency. This could affect the defendant's security clearance.
On the other hand, someone charged with a felony would forfeit several constitutional rights, such as the ability to carry a firearm and the right to vote.
Having a criminal record may make it more difficult to obtain a loan, find housing, or employment. Your criminal lawyer may assist you in building a strong defense and minimizing the severity of the allegations against you. That is why it is often a smart idea to consult with one once you learn of the charges against you.
Different Cases Our Middleburg Criminal Defense Lawyers Handle
All criminal charges, regardless of the specific category to which they may be assigned under state law, deserve significant attention because of the severe consequences that may follow a conviction. A prosecutor will often be relentless in their pursuit of "a crime of opportunity." However, an experienced criminal defense lawyer is familiar with how to fight for you.
A defense lawyer may help a lot when it comes to fighting accusations of DUI, simple assault, reckless driving, trespassing, and petty theft, among other crimes. Having legal representation can also come in handy when fighting against allegations relating to drugs, in particular where those allegations entail the distribution of drugs or illegal trade.
While it is no longer illegal to possess marijuana in Virginia, there are far harsher consequences for the possession of other banned substances if you are found guilty.
If you desire to effectively contest criminal charges, you should make it an absolute top priority to retain the services of an expert legal representative. Our Middleburg lawyers offer legal assistance in situations involving any kind of criminal accusations, such as:
When compared to other states, Virginia takes a more serious stance on the possession of marijuana greater than one ounce, classifying a first offense as a misdemeanor that carries the possibility of jail time or a fine.
Marijuana manufacturing and distribution are typically regarded as serious crimes carrying maximum fines of $500,000 and lengthy prison sentences.
Selling or producing large quantities of drugs like methamphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide, heroin, or another banned narcotic carries a potential sentence of 40 years behind bars and a monetary penalty of up to $500,000.
Driving Under the Influence/DUI Charges
When someone is found guilty of DUI or driving while intoxicated/DWI as a first offense, it is regarded as a misdemeanor and carries a monetary penalty as well as a driving license suspension. In addition to this, a person could end up with a record that is likely to follow them throughout their entire life.
If you are caught driving under the influence for the third time, or any time after that, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony, which carries a potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Other forms of driving under the influence that are considered to be misdemeanors include underage driving and operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, both of which can lead to penalties including a possible jail sentence and a fine.
When an intoxicated individual causes a vehicle accident that leads to injuries, they can be charged with a Class 6 felony offense of DUI Maiming. However, when someone dies due to an inebriated driver's actions, they can be charged with DUI Manslaughter, which is a more serious crime.
Forgery, fake loans, and check loans are examples of crimes that can be punished as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the amount of money that was fraudulently obtained by bank fraud or counterfeiting. These types of crimes are covered by federal and state laws.
The maximum penalties include 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. There are serious legal consequences for committing identity theft, including possible imprisonment and fines.
Additional offenses, such as wire or mail fraud, cybercrimes, and hacking into computer networks or email accounts, are typically categorized as felonies, irrespective of the value of the stolen property. Such offenses carry long prison sentences and fines of up to $250,000.
Sex Crime Charges
Sexual offenses can result in sentences ranging from one year to more than ten years in jail, based on whether the offense has been identified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Such offenses include assault, sexual battery, and prostitution.
The most serious sex crimes are rape, the production of pornographic material involving children, and the unlawful solicitation of minors using the Internet. These are considered felonies, with sentences ranging from many decades to a life sentence, monetary penalties, and the requirement to be classified as a sex offender in the State's registry.
Violent Crime Charges
Domestic assault and other assault-related offenses are punishable as felonies or misdemeanors in Virginia. However, more severe offenses, like malicious and aggravated injury, crimes involving weapons and firearms, DUI maiming, and arson, are usually prosecuted as felonies. If convicted of more serious violent crimes, an offender could face a jail term of anything from twenty years to life.
Those found guilty of murder in Virginia are subject to extremely severe penalties. The accused could receive the death penalty if found guilty of capital murder. An offender convicted of first-degree murder faces a possible life sentence, while someone convicted of felony murder or second-degree murder faces a potential jail term of anywhere from 5 to 40 years.
Theft and Trespassing
Trespassing offenses are classified as class A misdemeanors, which carry maximum penalties of a year in jail and maximum fines of $2500 depending on the specifics of the offense. The following are classified as felonies: shoplifting, robbery, larceny, and burglary.
If convicted of more serious crimes like trespassing and theft, a defendant could face a term ranging from five years to life behind bars.
Protective Order Violations
Virginia law allows victims of crime who have been threatened or harmed to seek an order of protection against the perpetrator.
The judge can impose a range of restrictions in the order of protection, like prohibiting the defendant from communicating with the alleged victim in any way or revoking their ability to possess firearms.
The procedure for obtaining an order of protection from a judge is regarded as civil, but violating the terms of this order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and/or one year behind bars.
White Collar Offenses
"A white collar offense" encompasses a wide range of acts that don't cause harm to other people, such as:
- Money laundering.
- Bank fraud.
- Identity theft.
- Credit card fraud.
- Tax avoidance.
- Mail and wire fraud.
Depending on the circumstances, these offenses could qualify as misdemeanors. However, other white-collar offenses count as felonies.
If an offender is convicted for perpetrating a felony offense, the potential punishments include imprisonment for a period that can last anywhere from 20 years to life in prison as well as a fine that can go as high as a million dollars.
Additionally, our attorneys protect the constitutional rights of juveniles who are facing criminal charges. Our team is committed to providing outstanding support to our younger clients and their loved ones.
We make a great effort to provide them with legal advice that steers them away from problems with state law because we think they too have a right to a bright and prosperous future.
The Necessary Steps to Take After a Criminal Charge in Middleburg
Regardless of the specifics of the criminal charges you are facing, you should seek the advice of an attorney who is qualified to guide you through the intricacies and regulations that pertain to your matter.
Whether you are being accused of a white-collar crime like tax-related fraud or violent crimes like domestic violence, the repercussions of these allegations could be far-reaching. You might feel pressured to immediately enter a guilty plea, put up a defense, or retain the services of a public attorney to represent you in court.
However, those are options that could lead to significantly harsher penalties for you. You should discuss the specifics of your case with a criminal lawyer before taking any action.
They will be able to give you the guidance you need to take the steps that could result in more favorable verdicts, shorter prison terms, or even have the charges against you dropped altogether.
Advantages of Using a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer
A skilled criminal defense attorney can be of great assistance to a person who has been accused of committing a crime and is attempting to navigate the court system. Your defense lawyer can help you understand how different offenses are typically handled and also what to anticipate from the prosecutor and the judicial process.
If you're being accused of a crime, it is in your best interests to contact a lawyer right away so that they start the process of building a solid defense. While the hiring of counsel at any time would be a good idea, it is in your best interest to do so as soon as possible.
It is important to stress that requesting to speak with your Middleburg criminal defense lawyer doesn't in any manner imply wrongdoing or guilt.
Anyone who is arrested or accused of a crime should consult with their attorney as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can counsel clients on how to protect their interests and rights and is knowledgeable about the local judicial system.
Having legal representation can simplify the process of understanding the allegations against you and the upcoming court case. The specifics of your case will determine whether or not a lawyer can negotiate the charges that have been brought against you to have them dismissed or at the very least, get the penalties lessened.
Find a Middleburg Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Having legal experience is your best defense when facing criminal charges. No matter how insignificant the charges may seem or how well you may have studied the criminal code in advance, your chances of averting a conviction or reducing potential penalties are much lower without expert legal assistance.
Our Middleburg criminal defense attorneys at the Virginia Criminal Attorney are available to help with any kind of criminal matter. Call us today at 703-718-5533.