Criminal Penalties in Virginia
Depending on the offense you have been accused of, there are a wide range of penalties you could end up facing in Virginia. As a result, it is important that you consult with a Virginia criminal defense attorney so you know exactly what consequences you may be looking at and whether anything can be done to mitigate the sentence. With these things in mind, the following is a basic guide to criminal penalties in Virginia and how an experienced legal representative can help. To learn more or discuss what penalties you may be facing, schedule a consultation today.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia there are a variety of different penalties you could end up facing. The most severe type of misdemeanor is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine if you are found guilty and sentenced. However because that is the maximum sentence, any sentence at all from zero fines and zero jail time all the way up to this maximum is possible.
In the majority of misdemeanor cases there are no mandatory minimums or maximums which apply, with a few exceptions including DUI cases where the breath alcohol content (BAC) is above a certain threshold limit. However, even without a mandatory minimum jail requirement, people do regularly serve jail time for Class 1 misdemeanors, so they should be taken very seriously.
A Class 2 misdemeanor also has a jail option, but it is less likely to be applied in regular practice. Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors are punishable by high fines.
For felonies, the most serious type is a capital felony. Capital felonies carry the possibility of punishment by death. Just like misdemeanors, however, categories of felonies range from the lowest number to the highest number with the lowest being the least severe.
A Class 1 felony carries a potential sentence of up to life in prison, as well as a substantial fine. Class 6 felonies carry a potential punishment of one to five years in a penitentiary, which is prison, or in the court’s discretion up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine. This ability to have a flexible sentence for Class 6 felonies, as well as for Class 5 felonies, is an important distinction in Virginia law. An experienced defense attorney can explain how that distinction may apply to your case.
Criminal Fines in Virginia
In Virginia if you are found guilty of an offense you may be assessed a fine in addition to any court costs.
If you are unable to pay the fine and the court costs within a certain period of time, you may ask the court for an extension to pay. By statute, all defendants are given 30 days to pay their fines and court costs. However, you may receive additional time depending on your request, your ability to pay, and local rules and procedures.
If You Fail To Pay
If you are asked to pay within 30 days and fail to do so, there are serious consequences. The first consequence is that a notice of failure to pay will be sent from the court’s office to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will then give you notice that your driver’s license is administratively suspended for failure to pay fines and court costs. This happens even if your offense is not in any way related to driving.
If you are an out-of-state driver the DMV cannot suspend your out-of-state privileges. However, the DMV can and will suspend your privilege to operate a motor vehicle inside the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are very serious consequences. You will not be a licensed driver in Virginia until you take care of your outstanding fines and costs.
There are circumstances under which you may be able to pay the fines and costs through alternative means, including community service options. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away if you are interested in pursuing the community service option instead of paying the fine. This option has various restrictions, so make sure you find an attorney who practices in the jurisdiction local to where you have to pay the fine.