What is a Felony, and How Will It Affect You?
A felony is the most criminal offense under either state or federal law. Virginia reserves the harshest punishment for those individuals convicted of committing felonies. Felony convictions usually result in incarceration in a prison for more than one year and fines that are much higher than those associated with a misdemeanor conviction. A felony record will follow you for the rest of your life and can make it difficult to get a job, be licensed in certain occupations and obtain housing.
Unlike misdemeanor charges that are prosecuted on paperwork prepared by prosecutors, you cannot be forced to answer to a criminal charge that is a felony without a felony indictment from a grand jury. A grand jury reviews the evidence presented by the prosecution in a secret proceeding that is not open to the public. If it is convinced that the evidence establishes probable cause to believe that you committed the crime, the grand jury will issue a felony indictment directing that an arrest warrant be issued to have you picked up by police to answer the charges.
Class of felony crimes and penalties associated with them
Different crimes are placed into a class of felony depending upon the seriousness of the conduct committed by the offender and the severity of the penalties judges may impose. Classification of felonies and penalties associated with each of them are as follows:
- Class 1 felony: This class includes murder. Punishment includes the death penalty or life imprisonment and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 2 felony: Certain burglary crimes are included in this class. Punishment includes imprisonment from 20 years to life and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 3 felony: Purposely causing injury to another person with intent to kill or disfigure them is an example of this class of felony. Punishment is a prison term of at least five years up to a maximum of 20 years and a fine up to $100,000.
- Class 4 felony: Certain arson offenses and some sex crimes are included in this class. Punishment includes two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
- Class 5 felony: Battery is a crime in this class, and it is punishable by a prison sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
- Class 6 felony: These felony crimes are the least serious offenses. Punishment includes one to five years imprisonment.
Most serious felony sex crimes carry with them the requirement that the convicted person register with as a sex offender. This information is made available to the public and can damage an individual’s personal and profession life.
Fighting Against Criminal Charges with an Aggressive Defense
Whether you are confronting federal or local criminal charges, the Smith Law Firm, P.L.C. has an experienced felony defense attorney to handle your felony case in Virginia or your federal criminal defense.