Can You Actually Go To Jail For A Misdemeanor In Virginia?
Yes, receiving jail time for a misdemeanor conviction in Virginia is possible. Depending on the type of misdemeanor and the circumstances of the offense, jail time can range from a few days to up to twelve months in a county or city jail. It can be helpful to explore the different types of misdemeanors in Virginia. Here, we will explain when a person could face jail time for a misdemeanor conviction in the Commonwealth.
What is a Misdemeanor in Virginia?
In Virginia, the law divides crimes into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are generally less serious than felonies, but they still may include fines and/or jail time. Typically, defendants serve sentences for misdemeanors in county jails, not state prisons.
In Virginia, the court further divides misdemeanors into four classes: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4. In some more unusual cases, a misdemeanor can be categorized as “unclassified (Class U).”
Class 1 Misdemeanors in Virginia
A Class 1 misdemeanor is Virginia’s most serious classification of misdemeanor crimes. Crimes categorized as a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia include:
- Reckless driving
- Petit larceny
- Assault and battery
- Domestic assault
- Disorderly conduct
Punishments for Class 1 misdemeanors may include up to one year in jail, a fine not exceeding $2,500, or both of these punishments. Additionally, certain offenses, such as DUI, may involve loss of driving privileges and other penalties.
Class 2 Misdemeanors in Virginia
Class 2 misdemeanors in Virginia are considered less serious than Class 1 but can still result in significant penalties. Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors in Virginia include illegal possession of Schedule IV drugs (such as Valium), aggressive driving, and other traffic-related offenses. While aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor, it may be upgraded to a Class 1 misdemeanor if someone acts with the intent to injure another person. The possible sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor in Virginia is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Class 3 Misdemeanors in Virginia
Class 3 misdemeanors are generally less serious offenses in Virginia and are only punishable by a fine. The maximum penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor conviction is a fine of up to $500. Examples of Class 3 misdemeanors in Virginia include:
- Possession of a Schedule V controlled substance (such as cough medicine with codeine)
- Violating a custody or visitation order
- Willful misconduct by a notary
- Driving without car insurance
- Using reflective window tinting
Class 4 Misdemeanors in Virginia
Class 4 misdemeanors in Virginia are the least serious offenses and do not carry any potential jail time. They are considered violations of public order rather than criminal offenses and are punishable only by a fine. The maximum penalty for a Class 4 misdemeanor conviction includes a fine of up to $250. Some examples of Class 4 misdemeanors in Virginia include:
- Public intoxication
- Drinking while operating a motor vehicle/open container
- Possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance
- Trespassing on railroad tracks
Speak With a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you were charged with a misdemeanor in Virginia, speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Office of Bain Sheldon, we have nearly two decades of experience helping clients in Virginia. Our attorneys understand the unique complexities of criminal law and can advocate for you throughout your case. We’ll assess the facts of your case, explain your options, and offer personalized legal guidance and advice. If you are concerned about a misdemeanor charge, contact us today for a free legal consultation.