If you are arrested in Virginia, you will face misdemeanor or felony charges. Felonies are more serious crimes and carry stiffer punishments, including a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines.
If you have been charged with a felony, it is vital to understand the classification of felonies to know the potential sentence you face if you are convicted. You should also consult with an experienced Manassas criminal defense lawyer at The Wilson Law Firm immediately to raise the constitutional, procedural, and other defenses you may have—even if you believe you are guilty.
How Felonies Are Classified in Virginia
Our state has six classes of felonies, ranging from the most severe Class 1 felony to the least severe Class 6 felony. Understanding these classifications is essential, as they significantly determine the potential penalties associated with each offense. Here is a breakdown of the felony classifications in Virginia.
Class 1 Felonies
These are the most serious offenses in Virginia and include crimes such as capital murder and first-degree murder. Class 1 felonies are punished by life imprisonment or death, although the death penalty can only be imposed in specific circumstances.
Class 2 Felonies
This classification encompasses crimes such as kidnapping and aggravated malicious wounding. Class 2 felonies carry a potential prison sentence ranging from 20 years to life, with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for certain offenses and a maximum fine of $100,000.
Class 3 FeloniesCrimes like burglary, stabbing someone, and certain drug offenses fall under Class 3 felonies. The punishment for Class 3 felonies includes five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Class 4 Felonies
This classification includes offenses like embezzlement, arson of an unoccupied building, and prostitution. Class 4 felonies carry a potential prison sentence of two to ten years and a fine not to exceed $100,000.
Class 5 Felonies
Crimes such as involuntary manslaughter and extortion are Class 5 felonies. They are wobbler crimes that can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony.The punishment for Class 5 felonies includes imprisonment for one to ten years. However, at the discretion of the jury or the court, an individual can be sentenced to a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.
Class 6 Felonies
Crimes like strangulation and credit card fraud are Class 6 felonies and are also wobbler offenses. These felonies are punishable by imprisonment for one to five years or at the discretion of the jury or the court, the same punishment as for a Class 5 felony.