Felonies in West Virginia are crimes punishable by incarceration in state prison. Less serious crimes (misdemeanors) are punishable by local or county jail terms. (W.V. Ann. Code § 61-11-1.)
For more information on misdemeanors in West Virginia, see West Virginia Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In most states, lawmakers designate crimes by class (such “Class A felony” or “level 1 felony”) and fix a range of sentences for each class. In West Virginia, lawmakers determine the maximum possible punishment on a crime-by-crime basis.
(W.V. Ann. Code § 61-11-16.)
For example, in West Virginia, the sale or cultivation of marijuana is punishable by one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. For more information, see West Virginia Marijuana Laws.
Making child pornography is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. For more information on this and related crimes, see Child Enticement Laws in West Virginia.
The most serious crimes in West Virginia, such as murder, are punishable by life imprisonment. (W.V. Ann. Code §§ 61-11-2, 61-11-16.)
Subsequent Felony Convictions
A person who is convicted of a felony in West Virginia and has a prior felony conviction will be punished more severely than a person without a criminal record who is convicted of the same crime. Second (and subsequent) felony convictions carry an additional prison term of at least five years.
(W.V. Ann. Code § 61-11-18.)
Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are time periods during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the prosecution is prohibited. Statutes of limitations begin to “run” when the crime is committed. In many states, the most serious crimes, such as murder, have no statutes of limitations. In West Virginia, there are no statutes of limitations for any felonies.
For more information, see West Virginia Criminal Statute of Limitations.
The Value of Legal Representation
Felony convictions have serious and lasting consequences. A felony conviction can make it difficult (or impossible) to run for public office, obtain a professional license, or be hired in certain industries. If you are charged with a felony, you should contact a West Virginia criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights and obtain the best outcome possible under the circumstances.