It’s common knowledge that felonies can be extremely serious, threatening long prison sentences, staggering fines, the loss of your ability to vote and a wide variety of life-changing challenges. Murder is a felony.
But it’s a common misperception that misdemeanors are like a felonies but not serious, bring small challenges that are easily and quickly overcome. Cursing in public is a misdemeanor in Virginia.
Contacting an attorney may be a good idea when you or a loved one is arrested for a crime in either category. It’s may also be a good idea to get acquainted with Virginia’s categories of felonies and misdemeanors.
Don’t worry, Mom, it’s only a misdemeanor
The least serious felonies in Virginia, Class 5 and Class 6, can also be treated as serious misdemeanors. Smuggling cigarettes to evade taxes, for example, could go either way.
But remember that a felony conviction in Virginia may mean losing important rights we often take for granted, such as voting, keeping a gun, getting paid to hold public office and much more. May employment opportunities, public and private, can vanish with a felony on your record.
The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is a big deal, so consult an attorney for all criminal charges.
Examples of Virginia felonies
Here’s a list of classes, each with just one example of a particularly serious or interesting violation:
- Class 1: Murder.
- Class 2: Maliciously shooting a pregnant woman.
- Class 3: Having a terrorist weapon.
- Class 4: Large scale identity theft.
- Class 5: Lying while under oath in a Virginia court.
- Class 6: Trying to donate HIV+ blood.
Examples of Virginia misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are not the least serious crimes in Virginia. Misdeeds like failing to signal for a turn are neither felonies nor misdemeanors but “violations.” As above, here are some serious and/or interesting misdemeanors:
- Class 1: Assault and battery.
- Class 2: Having drug paraphernalia.
- Class 3: Unintentionally damaging property.
- Class 4: Drinking alcohol while driving.
Even a misdemeanor conviction can have very serious consequences you may not expect. The Class 4 misdemeanor of drinking alcohol while driving may suddenly matter on the job search, long after you’ve forgotten about it. Consulting an attorney, regardless of the charge, can help get you the best outcome possible given the exact charges and particular circumstances involved.