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What are the differences in infractions, misdemeanors and felonies?

In Virginia, criminal offenses are either felonies or misdemeanors.  Traffic infractions are violations of public order and they are not criminal. 

Felony offenses are the most serious criminal offenses and are punishable either with death or possible confinement in a state correctional facility exceeding one year.   Felony offenses are classified into 6 classes for the purposes of punishment and sentencing, the most serious being Class 1 felonies. (See chart below).

Misdemeanor offenses are punishable either by fines or jail not more than one year.  Typically, where ordered, confinement is in local or county jails.  Misdemeanor offenses are also classified into 4 classes for the purposes of punishment and sentencing, the most serious being Class 1 misdemeanors.  (See chart below).

 

Misdemeanor Punishments

Class 1

up to 12 months jail & up to $2500 fine

Class 2

up to 6 months jail & up to $1000 fine

Class 3

up to $500 fine

Class 4

up to $250 fine

 

Felony Punishments

Class 1

death or life in prison & up to $100,000 fine

Class 2

20 yrs to life & up to $100,000 fine

Class 3

5 to 20 yrs &  up to $100,000 fine

Class 4

2 to 10 yrs  up to $100,000 fine

Class 5

1 to 10 yrs or

up to 12 months jail & up to $2,500 fine

Class 6

1 to 5 yrs or

up to 12 months jail & up to $2,500 fine























 

 

 

 

 

We are experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyers who will aggressively defend your rights and fight your charges and, where appropriate, negotiate the best outcome for your circumstances.  If you find yourself charged with a misdemeanor or felony, call us today for a free case evaluation at 1-888-384-5997

§ 18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor.

The authorized punishments for conviction of a misdemeanor are:

(a) For Class 1 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

(b) For Class 2 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both.

(c) For Class 3 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $500.

(d) For Class 4 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $250.

For a misdemeanor offense prohibiting proximity to children as described in subsection A of § 18.2-370.2, the sentencing court is authorized to impose the punishment set forth in subsection B of that section in addition to any other penalty provided by law.

§ 18.2-10. Punishment for conviction of felony.

The authorized punishments for conviction of a felony are:

(a) For Class 1 felonies, death, if the person so convicted was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense and is not determined to be mentally retarded pursuant to § 19.2-264.3:1.1, or imprisonment for life and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000. If the person was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense or is determined to be mentally retarded pursuant to § 19.2-264.3:1.1, the punishment shall be imprisonment for life and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.

(b) For Class 2 felonies, imprisonment for life or for any term not less than 20 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.

(c) For Class 3 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.

(d) For Class 4 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than 10 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.

(e) For Class 5 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

(f) For Class 6 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

(g) Except as specifically authorized in subdivision (e) or (f), or in Class 1 felonies for which a sentence of death is imposed, the court shall impose either a sentence of imprisonment together with a fine, or imprisonment only. However, if the defendant is not a natural person, the court shall impose only a fine.

For any felony offense committed (i) on or after January 1, 1995, the court may, and (ii) on or after July 1, 2000, shall, except in cases in which the court orders a suspended term of confinement of at least six months, impose an additional term of not less than six months nor more than three years, which shall be suspended conditioned upon successful completion of a period of post-release supervision pursuant to § 19.2-295.2 and compliance with such other terms as the sentencing court may require. However, such additional term may only be imposed when the sentence includes an active term of incarceration in a correctional facility.

For a felony offense prohibiting proximity to children as described in subsection A of § 18.2-370.2, the sentencing court is authorized to impose the punishment set forth in that section in addition to any other penalty provided by law.

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