Being accused of committing an offense can be intimidating particularly if you are unacquainted with the local legal processes or if this is your first offense. It's not uncommon for individuals to be wrongfully accused of crimes they have not committed. If you are facing criminal accusations in Springfield, Virginia, your first action should be to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to get a favorable outcome for your case. At the Virginia Criminal Attorney, we can stand by your side and fight to clear you of any wrongful allegations, regardless of whether you are a first-time offender or if you have any past convictions.
Classifications of Criminal Offenses in Virginia
Most criminal acts in Virginia are classified by the laws of the state as misdemeanors or felonies, with misdemeanors being less serious offenses that carry shorter prison terms and lesser fines and vice versa. Certain "special" violations are categorized independently from this simplified structure and can carry different potential penalties depending on the specifics of the case. Your Springfield criminal defense counsel could break down these penalties for you when necessary.
The Four Categories of Misdemeanor Offenses
According to Virginia law, there are 4 different categories of misdemeanors, which are punishable by fines and two capable of resulting in incarceration. According to the Code of Virginia Title 18.2-11, the following are the highest possible penalties that can be imposed in Springfield for different classes of misdemeanors:
- A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail along with a $2,500 fine.
- A Class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and a six-month jail term.
- A Class 3 misdemeanor offense carries a fine of no more than $500.
- A Class 4 misdemeanors offense carries a fine of no more than $250.
Additionally, since 1st July 2020, possessing no more than one ounce of cannabis for one's personal use is no longer considered a misdemeanor instead it's charged as a civil violation that is penalized by a monetary penalty of at least $25.
The Six Categories of Felony Offenses
According to state law, there are six different categories of felonies, each with a different set of potential penalties that are based on the severity and nature of the criminal act. According to the Code of Virginia Title 18.2-10, the following penalties could be imposed on a person found guilty of a certain kind of felony offense:
- For a class 1 felony offense, a life sentence or the death penalty is not taken into consideration if the offender is below 18 or has an intellectual impairment as defined by the Code of Virginia Title 19.2-264.3:1.1.
- A class 2 felony offense includes a prison sentence of at least 20 years or a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
- Class 3 felony offenses include a prison sentence of between five to twenty years.
- A class 4 felony offense carries a term of between two and ten years in prison.
- Class 5 felony offenses carry a sentence of between one to ten years in prison, with a maximum term of one year in jail, subject to the judge's discretion.
- Category 6 felony offenses carry an imprisonment term for a period ranging from one to five years, and depending on the court's discretion, a 12-month jail sentence.
In addition, the court has the authority to punish $2,500 for a Class 5 or Class 6 felony, as well as monetary penalties of $100,000, which could be imposed for higher felony classes.
Misdemeanor Versus Felony Charges
The differences between misdemeanor and felony offenses in Springfield are similar to the differences between the two categories of violations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some offenses are classified as felonies whereas others are misdemeanors, and this distinction is made based on how the Code of Virginia is worded.
The District Attorney's Office has a completely different approach to prosecuting felonies compared to misdemeanor offenses. Not only are there several legal processes one must go through when dealing with felony offenses, but there are various penalties for felonies, including non-violent acts.
Misdemeanor convictions can result in a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, while felony convictions carry the possibility of serving much longer in prison. Speaking with a Springfield criminal attorney is essential since felonies can result in life imprisonment sentences and hefty fines, based on the specific charges brought against you.
Even though a misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony, there are still many different long-term implications that can result from a conviction, particularly if the person in question has security clearance. In certain circumstances, the defendant could be required to reveal such details to their prospective employers or during a security record check, based on the policies that are in place in their specific firm or government department, and it could undoubtedly have an impact on the individual's security clearance.
Conversely, if a person is convicted of a felony, they would lose a number of their constitutional rights, including the right to cast a vote as well as their right to own firearms. A felony record might make it difficult to get work, find a place to live, or get a loan. Given the stakes, it is usually a good idea to speak with a criminal lawyer who can help you create a solid defense and lessen the impact of the charges against you.
Types of Cases Our Springfield Criminal Law Attorneys Handle
Criminal charges should always be treated seriously because a conviction for any of them could result in major repercussions, irrespective of what subcategory it belongs under the state laws.
Prosecutors aggressively pursue many different forms of "crimes of opportunity," but a seasoned criminal defense attorney will know how to best defend you. Once hired, a defense attorney could be of great assistance in defending against charges of simple assault, DUI, trespassing, reckless driving, minor theft, and other offenses.
Legal representation could also be crucial when defending against drug-related allegations, particularly when those charges involve distributing drugs and/or illicit trade, legal representation may also be crucial. Even though marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense in the state of Virginia, being convicted for possessing other controlled substances carries much harsher penalties.
Anyone who wishes to successfully contest a criminal charge should make hiring an experienced attorney a top priority. Our Springfield attorneys provide legal representation in cases involving any criminal allegations, including:
In contrast to other states, marijuana possession of more than an ounce is treated more harshly in Virginia, where even a first violation is considered a misdemeanor and can result in incarceration or a monetary penalty.
The distribution or production of marijuana is generally considered to be a serious criminal offense, punishable by many years in prison and fines of up to five hundred thousand dollars.
For more serious drug crimes including selling or manufacturing drugs such as meth, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), heroin, or any other controlled narcotic, the maximum penalty increases to forty years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000.
A conviction for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated for the first time is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a monetary fine and the suspension of the driver's license. A person would also have a criminal record that would last a lifetime.
A third or any subsequent DUI offense is classified as a Class 6 felony which is penalized by a maximum sentence of 5 years as well as a maximum fine of $2,500. Other types of DUI charges that are classified as misdemeanors such as boating while intoxicated and underage DUI, can result in penalties such as a potential jail term and a monetary fine.
A person can be prosecuted with the Class 6 felony of DUI Maiming when he or she causes a car crash that results in injuries, or DUI Manslaughter when a person dies as a consequence of the intoxicated driver's actions.
Crimes related to counterfeiting or bank fraud, including forgery, check fraud, and fake loans, fall under both state and federal laws and could be prosecuted as felony or misdemeanor offenses based on the actual worth of the stolen property.
The most severe punishments include a 30-year prison term along with a fine of up to $1,000,000. Identity theft is charged as either a felony or misdemeanor and is also punishable by a prison or jail term, and hefty fines.
Other offenses, including fraud committed via mail or wire, cybercrimes, or hacking into email or computer systems, are usually classified as felonies regardless of the worth of the property that was taken, and the penalties for these crimes can include a lengthy prison term as well as fines of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Punishments for sexually related crimes range from a one-year jail term to ten years or more behind bars depending on whether the crime was filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. Such crimes include prostitution, sexual battery, and assault.
More serious sexual offenses are rape, child pornography, and online solicitation of minors. These are classified as felonies, and the penalties range from a few decades to a life imprisonment sentence, as well as monetary fines and the necessity to be listed in the state's sex offender registry as a sex offender.
In the state of Virginia, the crimes of assault and battery, as well as domestic assault, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. But more serious acts, including aggravated and malicious wounding, weapon and gun crimes, DUI Maiming, and acts of arson, are typically charged as felony offenses.
An offender could be sentenced to anything between twenty years and life in prison if they are found guilty of more heinous violent offenses.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, individuals convicted of murder face exceptionally harsh penalties. Capital murder charges can lead to death sentences for the offenders.
A defendant found guilty of murder in the first degree can receive a prison sentence that ranges from twenty years to a life sentence, while a defendant found guilty of murder in the second degree or felony murder can receive a sentence that ranges from five to forty years.
Trespassing and Theft
Trespassing is considered a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail as well as a fine of up to $2500. Burglary offenses, larceny, robbery, and shoplifting, are considered felonies.
A defendant could be subjected to anything from 5 years to a life sentence in prison if they are found guilty of more serious offenses of theft and trespassing.
In the state of Virginia, a crime victim can seek protection from an offender who has threatened or injured them by obtaining a protective order. The judge may impose a variety of limitations in the protective order, such as requiring the defendant to refrain from having any contact with their victim and banning rights to own firearms.
While the process of getting a protective order from the court is considered civil, violating the provisions of such an order is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a maximum fine of $2,500 or a year in jail.
White Collar Crimes
The term "white collar crime" refers to a broad category of offenses that do not involve violence against others, including:
- Money laundering.
- Identity theft.
- Bank fraud.
- Credit card theft.
- Tax avoidance.
- Wire and mail fraud.
These crimes can sometimes be prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses but there are some other common white-collar felony offenses. If a defendant is found guilty of committing a felony, the possible penalties include a prison sentence ranging from twenty years to life imprisonment and a maximum fine of one million dollars.
In addition, our lawyers defend the rights of minors who have been accused of committing a crime. Our team devotes much effort to serving our young clients along with their families. We believe that they also are entitled to a positive and fruitful future, so we work hard to offer them legal counsel that keeps them out of trouble with the law.
How to Proceed If You've Been Charged with a Crime in Springfield
Regardless of the nature of your criminal charges, you need a legal counsel who can assist you in navigating the complexities of the laws surrounding your case. Whether you're facing accusations for a white-collar offense such as tax fraud or a violent crime, for example, domestic violence, they could have far-reaching consequences.
There may be a temptation for you to enter a guilty plea right away, mount your defense, or hire a public defender to handle your case. However, those are choices that could result in considerably more severe punishments for you. Before you do anything, talk to a criminal attorney about the facts of your case. They can provide you with the advice you require to take actions that could lead to more lenient verdicts, a shorter prison term, or even a dismissal of the charges against you.
Benefits of Hiring a Seasoned Criminal Attorney
When a person is accused of a crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help them navigate the legal process. Your defense attorney can give you an idea of what to expect from the court system and the prosecution, as well as how various offenses are often handled.
If you are facing criminal accusations, it is in your best interest to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible so that they can begin fighting for your rights. While having legal representation is beneficial at any point, it is most beneficial when their services are retained early on.
It is essential to emphasize that asking to talk to your criminal attorney in Springfield does not in any way indicate guilt or wrongdoing. When a person is detained or accused of committing a criminal act of any kind, it is strongly recommended by those who work in the legal industry that they speak with their lawyer.
A seasoned criminal defense lawyer is familiar with the local legal system and can advise clients on the best ways to safeguard their rights and interests. An attorney can help you make sense of all the details surrounding your charges and forthcoming court case. A lawyer could be capable of negotiating the charges against you and having them dropped or at least have the penalties reduced depending on the particulars of your case.
Find a Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Experience in law is the best defense against criminal prosecution in courts. Without professional legal assistance, you have a far lower chance of avoiding a conviction or lowering potential penalties, regardless of how minor the charges might seem or how thoroughly you could have studied the law in advance. If you need assistance with any type of criminal issue, you can contact our Springfield criminal defense attorneys at the Virginia Criminal Attorney. Call us today at 703-718-5533.