Virginia lawmakers designate crimes as felonies (more serious crimes punishable by state imprisonment or death) or misdemeanors (less serious crimes punishable by up to 12 months in local jail). Misdemeanors are classified as Class 1, 2, 3, or 4, but lawmakers can also set specific penalties. (Va. Ann. Code § § 18.2-8, 18.2-9.)
For more information on felonies in Virginia, see Virginia Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors in Virginia. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by:
If lawmakers fail to designate a misdemeanor or set forth a particular punishment, then a crime is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(Va. Ann. Code § § 18.2-11, 18.2-12.)
Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by:
(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-11.)
For example, possession of drug paraphernalia and reckless driving are Class 2 misdemeanors in Virginia.
Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors, the least serious misdemeanors, are punishable by fines, but no jail time. A Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500. A Class 4 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $250. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-11.)
A first conviction for public intoxication is an example of a Class 4 misdemeanor. For more information on this crime, see Virginia Public Intoxication Laws.
Most crimes have a statute of limitations, a time period during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. When the crime is committed, the statute of limitations begins to “run.” Misdemeanors in Virginia have statutes of limitations of one year.
For more information, see Virginia Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Criminal convictions, even for misdemeanors, can have very serious consequences. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a conviction is to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. A local defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you can obtain the best possible outcome.