In Fairfax and throughout the rest of Virginia there are two different types of offenses that you can be charged with. The following is information on each of these charges and you can expect if charged. To learn more and begin building your defense, call and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax criminal defense attorney today.
Every criminal charge in Virginia will be either a misdemeanor or a felony and it will be written in the Code section under which you are charged. If you are charged with an offense, you can look that offense up in the Virginia Code and there you will be able to determine whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
The main way they differ is the possible punishment upon conviction. Misdemeanors a less serious than felonies, but still can have very serious impacts. In Virginia, there are four “classes” of misdemeanors with class 4 misdemeanors being the least serious an punishable by a fine of up to a $250 and a class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and other penalties.
All felonies have a maximum punishment of at least a year in jail. Felonies run the gamut in possible punishment, with capital murder being punishable by death, but every felony will have a maximum possible punishment of a year or more in jail.
Misdemeanors offenses encompass all types of behavior but some of the more common offenses are DUIs, first or second offense, assault and battery, possession or marijuana, reckless driving, petty larceny, and destruction of property under a certain amount. They tend to be slightly less serious cases than felonies.
Felonies are everything from murder, rape, and robbery to driving under the influence (third or subsequent offense), grand larceny, and possession of schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substances like cocaine or heroin. They tend to be a more serious offense with more injury to the public or to the vehicle or behavior that is inherently very dangerous.
In Fairfax, if you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you will be either issued a summons and be released on your promise to appear in court, or they will arrest you and take you to the detention center. You will then typically be given an arraignment date where you will appear in front of the judge, select a trial date, and either request a court-appointed attorney or inform the court that you will be hiring your own attorney.
The next time you are in court, the case will be for trial. Any offers made by the prosecutor will be conveyed to you and you will have to decide whether you want to accept that offer or go to trial. If you opt to go to trial, a trial will be held and a judge will determine your guilt or innocence, and your sentence. If you are unhappy with your outcome in General District Court, you have the right to appeal that decision to the Circuit court.
It should be noted, however, that in Fairfax, due to the large volume of cases they handle, your trial may not occur on the first court date but may be continued to a later date for trial. So, if you are charged in Fairfax, you can expect a little bit of a longer process until you have a final resolution in your case.