Felony Criminal Defense
The most serious criminal offenses in Virginia are classified as felonies under both federal and commonwealth laws. Someone convicted of committing a felony could face a lengthy prison sentence and be ordered to pay substantial fines. The consequences of a felony conviction last long after the sentence has been served and can prevent a person from getting a job and owning a firearm. At the Riley Law Firm, PLLC, our Hampton criminal defense attorneys are there from to protect the rights and preserve the future of their clients.
What Is a Felony?
Individuals charged with committing a crime in the cities and counties with the Virginia Peninsula and Southside will be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor depending upon the seriousness of the conduct in which they engaged. For example, possession of a small quantity of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500, but possession of larger quantities of the drug could allow police to charge a person with the felony of intent to distribute. A conviction on the felony charge could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years and fines up to $2,500.
Individuals convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment serve their sentences in prisons operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections. Misdemeanor sentences are served in a local facility, such as the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail serving the counties of York and James City and the cities of Williamsburg and Poquoson.
Among the crimes Virginia classifies as felonies are the following:
- Aggravated Assault
- Malicious Wounding
- Many Drug Crimes
- Reckless Endangerment
Felony charges are usually handled by the most experienced prosecutors and investigators because of the serious nature of the crime. It is essential defense counsel to have the knowledge and courtroom skills capable of devising an effective defense strategy to challenge the evidence presented by the state.
Felony classifications and penalties
Felonies are separated into six classes with the most serious ones designated as Class 1 felonies with the harshest penalties, including life imprisonment and capital punishment. The following are the six felony classes and the penalties associated with each:
- Class 1: Conviction of a Class 1 felony is punishable by death or prison sentences up to life imprisonment. Fines can be as high as $100,000. Examples of Class 1 felonies are capital murder and first-degree murder.
- Class 2: Arson, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and kidnapping are examples of Class 2 felonies. Sentences may include imprisonment from 20 years to life and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 3: Malicious wounding in which injury is caused to another person with intent to kill or disfigure is an example of a felony in this class. Sentences could range from 5 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 4: Some of the common felonies in this class are arson of a building that is not occupied and promoting prostitution. Punishment for a Class 4 felony can be from two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 5: Involuntary manslaughter, extortion and batter can be prosecuted as felonies. Sentencing options include one to 10 years in prison and fines up to $2,500.
- Class 6: As the least serious of the felony crimes, Class 6 felonies can result in prison sentences of from one to five years and fines up to $2,500. Examples of Class 6 felonies include reckless endangerment and animal cruelty.
Among the other consequences of a felony conviction are mandatory suspense of a person’s driving privileges for drug offenses. Background checks that reveal a felony conviction could cause a person to be denied housing and employment, but current law in Virginia does not allow for the removal of a felony conviction through expungement proceedings.
What Should Someone Do if Arrested on a Felony Charge?
Whether they are under investigation by law enforcement or have already been arrested and charged with a felony, people should contact an attorney right away. Individuals questioned by the police should politely decline to do so until they have the opportunity to speak to an attorney. Talking to police or anyone other than an attorney about the charges could jeopardize possible defenses.
How a Hampton Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
The criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors at Riley Law Firm, PLLC, are prepared to put their considerable talents to work on behalf of people facing felony charges throughout Gloucester and the Hampton Roads, Virginia region. Challenging the prosecution case could lead to dismissal, reduction of charges or other results favorable to the accused. Contact them today at 757-251-3888 to schedule a consultation.