You have been charged with a traffic ticket and don’t know where to turn. Should you prepay? Should you fight it? Do you have to appear in court? What are the legal consequences? Is jail time involved? What about points? These are all questions that arise whenever one receives a traffic ticket. Contact the Flynn Law Firm today for your Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Loudoun and Prince William county traffic cases. You will not be disappointed!
Depending on the specific allegation(s) against you, the charge could be an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony. An infraction, is not criminal in nature, and as such, does not require you to appear in court. An attorney can appear on your behalf. An example of an infraction is a speeding ticket. Since there is no possibility of jail time, an attorney can appear on your behalf and usually resolve everything for you with the judge and prosecutor.
Misdemeanors and felonies on the other hand, are far more serious. Misdemeanors and felonies are crimes, and therefore require you to appear in court with an attorney. They are considered crimes, because of the potential for jail time. An example of a misdemeanor traffic offense is DUI or Driving on Suspended. An example of a felony traffic offense would be a DUI 3rd, or a Hit and Run where the damage is greater than $1,000.
Here are examples of some Virginia Traffic classifications:
|Infraction||Speeding Ticket, Bad Registration,
Running a Red Light
|Misdemeanor||Driving Under the Influence,
Driving on a Suspended License, Reckless Driving
|Felony||DUI 3rd Offense, Hit and Run with Damage >$1,000|
meanor is the most serious of the misdemeanors, with a potential penalty of up to one year, and up to $2,500 (or both). Misdemeanor penalties decrease in severity as the class increases in number. In other words, a Class 1 misdemeanor is more serious than a Class 2 misdemeanor and so on.
Examples of Virginia misdemeanor classifications and their penalties, as well as examples are as follows:
|Class 1||Up to 1 year in jail||Up to $2,500||Petit Larceny, DUI,
Possession of Marijuana, Assault and Battery,
Possession of a Schedule III Drug
|Class 2||Up to 6 months in jail||Up to $1,250||Reckless Driving,
Possession of Schedule IV Drug,
No Operator’s License (First offense)
|Class 3||N/A||Up to $500||Possession of a Schedule V Drug|
|Class 4||N/A||Up to $250||Possession of a Schedule VI Drug,
It should be noted that for purposes of actually serving a sentence, misdemeanor time is computed by dividing the actual time in half. So, if someone is sentenced to serve two days in jail, they would only have to serve one day, if the charge they are found guilty of is a misdemeanor.
Felonies on the other hand are criminal charges whose sentence is one year or more. Like misdemeanors these charges are classified similarly, starting from Class 1 through Class 6. Class1 felonies are the most serious charges issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Class 6 felonies are the least severe of the felony charges.
Examples of Virginia felony classifications and their penalties, as well as examples are as follows:
|Class 1||Up to life in prison||Up to $100,000||Capital Murder, First Degree Murder|
|Class 2||Up to life in prison||Up to $100,000||Aggravated Malicious Wounding,
Second Degree Murder
|Class 3||5 years to 20 years||Up to $100,000||Malicious Wounding,
Arson of an Occupied Building
|Class 4||2 years to 10 years||Up to $100,000||Arson of an Unoccupied Building,
Forgery of a Public Record
|Class 5||1 year to 10 years||Up to $2,500||Possession of a Sch. I/II Drug,
Involuntary Manslaughter, Forgery, Uttering
|Class 6||1 year to 5 years||Up to $2,500||Assault on Law Enforcement,
3rd or Subsequent Larceny,
Unclassified Felonies and Misdemeanors
Felonies and misdemeanors are generally classified in the manner described above. However, that is just a general classification. Some crimes are not classified along these lines, and are considered “unclassified felonies” or “unclassified misdemeanors.” This just means that the penalty for the crime does not neatly fall within the framework described. To find out the penalty and / or fine for an unclassified crime, you would have to look to the statute itself to locate the penalty. For example, theft related charges are typically treated as unclassified felonies. Therefore, someone accused of Grand Larceny, wanting to know what the maximum fine / penalty for that charge would have to go to the statute to determine the maximum penalty.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for Virginia crimes can limit the Commonwealth’s ability to prosecute a case. In practice, however, it rarely affects a case. For misdemeanors, the statute of limitations – generally speaking – is one year from the date of the crime. Felonies, on the other hand, typically have no statute of limitations. There are exceptions to this rule, and you should contact the Flynn Law Firm to discuss the facts of your case to see whether your case might fall under an exception.