Felonies in Virginia

A felony is a category of criminal charges in Virginia. Felonies are generally more serious offenses than misdemeanors. Misdemeanors carry the maximum jail time of up to 12 months in jail and may result in no jail time at all. The penalties for a felony conviction can include years in a state correctional facility, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.

Even after serving time for a felony, there are consequences that can follow an individual for years to come. When facing a felony charge, individuals should contact an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to give them the best chance to avoid a felony conviction. Contact Charlottesville Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas M. Wilson today.

Virginia Felony Classification

Felonies in Virginia are separated into separate classes, ranging from Class 1 to Class 6, with Class 1 felonies being the most serious. Virginia Code § 18.2-10 authorizes the following punishments for felony convictions.

Class 1 Felonies

Class 1 felonies are the most serious criminal offenses in Virginia. The maximum penalties for a Class 1 felony conviction include

  • Death (if the person convicted was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense), or
  • Life imprisonment, and
  • A fine of up to $100,000.

Examples of Class 1 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Capital Murder
  • Sexual Abuse of a Child Under 15

Class 2 Felonies

The maximum penalties for a Class 2 Felony conviction include

  • From 20 years to life imprisonment, and
  • A fine of up to $100,000

Examples of Class 2 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Committing an Act of Terrorism
  • First-Degree Murder
  • Aggravated Malicious Wounding
  • Abduction to Extort Money
  • Burglary with a Deadly Weapon

Class 3 Felonies

The maximum penalty for a Class 3 Felony conviction includes

  • From 5 years to 20 years imprisonment, and
  • A fine of up to $100,000

Examples of Class 3 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Attempted Poisoning
  • Burglary

Class 4 Felonies

The maximum penalty for a Class 4 Felony conviction includes

  • From 2 years to 10 years imprisonment, and
  • A fine of up to $100,000

Examples of Class 4 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Arson of an Unoccupied Building
  • Shooting at a Vehicle
  • Human Trafficking
  • Bigamy
  • Child Abuse
  • Forging Public Records
  • Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun

Class 5 Felonies

Class 5 felonies are also known as “wobblers.” This means they can be punished similarly to a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a Class 5 Felony conviction includes

  • From 1 year to 10 years imprisonment, or
  • In the discretion of the jury or court, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

Examples of Class 5 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Extortion
  • Computer Fraud ($500 or more)
  • Soliciting Prostitution of a Minor (Under 16)
  • Credit Card Forgery

Class 6 Felonies

Class 6 felonies, like Class 5 felonies, are also treated as “wobblers.” The maximum penalty for a Class 6 Felony conviction includes

  • From 1 year to 5 years imprisonment, or
  • In the discretion of the jury or court, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

Examples of Class 6 Felonies in Virginia include

  • Strangulation
  • Multiple Domestic Violence
  • Soliciting Prostitution of a Minor (16 or Older)
  • Credit Card Fraud of $500 or More

Virginia Felony Maximum Penalty Chart

Felony Class

Jail

Fine

Class 1

Death penalty or life imprisonment

Up to $100,000

Class 2

Up to life imprisonment

Up to $100,000

Class 3

Up to 20 years

Up to $100,000

Class 4

Up to 10 years

Up to $100,000

Class 5

Up to 10 years

Up to $2,500

Class 6

Up to 5 years

Up to $2,500

Other Consequences of a Felony Conviction

There are other penalties and consequences of a felony conviction that go beyond jail time and fines. Felons may have to deal with the collateral consequences of a felony conviction for years to come.

Individuals convicted of felony sex crimes may have to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration in Virginia requires anyone convicted of certain sex crimes to register with the police department or sheriff's office where they reside. This requires regular registration, subject to visits by law enforcement, and staying away from certain locations.

Collateral Consequences of a Felony Record

Even after serving jail time a felony criminal record can follow an individual for the rest of their lives. There are certain rights and privileges that a convicted felon can lose in Virginia. This can include restrictions on

Criminal records are public records and may be searchable by the public, employers, or housing providers. A criminal background check as part of a job or housing application will generally turn up any record of a previous felony conviction. This can make it much more difficult for a convicted felon to find a job or a place to live.

Expungement is generally not available for someone convicted of a crime in Virginia. Expungement is only available if the charges were dismissed, the defendant was found not guilty, or the Commonwealth withdrew the charges.

Charlottesville Felony Defense Lawyer

Felony charges in Virginia can lead to long prison sentences and a permanent criminal record. Prosecutors may try and get you to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a reduced sentence but before pleading guilty to any crime in Virginia, make sure you understand your rights. If you were arrested for a felony offense in Charlottesville or Albemarle County, contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.

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