Getting charged with a crime is always a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges risks severe consequences that can have a devastating impact in all facets of their life. Apart from possible jail time and costly fees, the severe penalties of a criminal record can also cause loss of relationships and termination of job prospects. So, if you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, it is crucial that you get immediate assistance from a competent criminal defense lawyer; it could make the difference between a reduced plea bargain, or even a dismissal, and a jail sentence.
Virginia Criminal Law
Virginia takes crime very seriously, and as a result, the penalties can be devastating. The first step in building your criminal defense is figuring out if you were charged with a misdemeanor, felony, or an unclassified misdemeanor/ felony.
Misdemeanors and Felonies in Virginia
A misdemeanor is a minor crime whose penalties can include a fine and a jail sentence of no more than one year. In the state of Virginia, misdemeanors are divided into four different classes depending on the severity of the crime. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious and have a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Usual Class 1 misdemeanors include, but are not limited to: Driving Under the Influence (DUI); possession of Marijuana or a schedule 3 drug; petit larceny; and assault and battery. Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors, include reckless driving, possession of a class 4 drug, and driving without an operator’s license (first offense). These violations could face penalties of up to 6 months in jail and $1,250 in fines. Class 3 and Class 4 misdemeanor penalties do not risk any jail time, but can result in a costly fee.
On the other hand, felonies face much greater consequences. Similar to misdemeanors, felonies are divided into six different classes depending on the severity of the crime. Class 1 and Class 2 felonies are the most serious, and face possible penalties of up to life in jail and a fee of $100,000. These cases deal with grave crimes like murder and aggravated malicious wounding. Class 3 felonies, like malicious wounding and arson of an occupied building, face possible penalties of 5-20 years in prison and up to 100,000 in fees. Class 4 penalties also face up to $100,000 in fees but only 2-10 years in prison. Examples of these crimes include forgery of public records and arson of an unoccupied building. Class 5 and 6 felonies are “wobbler” crimes that can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on how they are charged. However, these cases typically receive lighter prison sentencing and fines up to $2,500.
Some crimes do not fall neatly into the legal framework and are called an unclassified misdemeanor/ felony. This simply means that, you would have to look at the statute itself to locate the possible penalties and fines.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a period of time in which the state must begin its criminal investigation in order to prosecute a case. In Virginia, most felonies typically have no statute of limitations, while misdemeanors generally have one year from the date of the crime.
Facing Criminal Charges in Arlington, VA
A criminal arrest, of any nature, warrants the legal advice of an experienced attorney who can work towards achieving the best possible outcome of your case.
What to do when facing investigation or arrest
In the unfortunate occurrence that you are arrested, it is important to remember that anything you say during the arrest can be used as evidence against you in the court of law. The best thing to do is cooperate. Give the identifying information they ask of you, but do not discuss your case with the arresting law enforcement or try to convince them that you are innocent. Most likely the police will only consider the probable cause factors of your case, so assume the arrest will take place and conduct yourself appropriately.
If you find out you are being investigated, contact a lawyer immediately. Try to get copies of any subpoena or relevant legal documents regarding your case. Remember that any information you disclose to people in confidence, can later on be used as evidence against you. Since people with whom you’re usually friendly can be forced to testify against you in court, it would be wise not to speak with anyone other than your lawyer about your case.
The Flynn Law Firm Takes on Criminal Cases in Arlington, VA
Hiring an experienced attorney is the first step in protecting your rights and securing your innocence. If you’re facing criminal charges, an attorney will be able to further explain: the charges filed against you; any available defenses; what plea bargains are going to possibly be offered; what to expect after the trial; and handle the criminal case procedures. A competent attorney will work to achieve the best possible outcome at every level of your case. From investigation and arrest to trial and appeal, your criminal defense lawyer should be working with your best interest at mind.
With so much at stake, it is critical that you get the legal help you need to escape the full wrath of the state. The Flynn Law Firm, we are prepared and willing to zealously fight your case to the very end. With years of experience as an aggressive, knowledgeable lawyer, Rex Flynn has represented clients in cases dealing with theft, fraud, assault and battery, sexual assault, and drug possession. So if you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Arlington, Virginia contact our local office immediately to set up a free consultation.