What Is a Misdemeanor?

In Virginia, crimes are separated into two broad classes: felonies and misdemeanors. Whether a crime will be considered a felony or a misdemeanor, it will depend on its possible maximum sentence. A misdemeanor offense is a crime less severe than a felony offense and it is punishable by a fine and a year in jail, not more than that. If there is a prison time then the prison time would be spent in the county jail instead of a state prison when a person is charged with a felony offense. Misdemeanor offenses are more severe and serious than infractions, which normally don’t result in any jail or prison time.

In Virginia, misdemeanors are distributed into four different classes, with Class 1 misdemeanors being the most serious. Some crimes can be categorized as either a misdemeanor or felony, reliant on the facts of the case, the victim’s status, the value of the property taken, and the number of previous offenses the individual has been charged/convicted with. In addition to these four misdemeanor classes of charges, there is also an unclassified class in misdemeanor category — or Class U — misdemeanor, that is used in occasional cases. Having your charges condensed to a less serious category of misdemeanor can have a huge influence on the severity of the probable punishments you may face and how it may affect your life.

Virginia Class 1 Misdemeanor List:

A Class 1 misdemeanor offense is the most common and severe classification and can be very alike to less serious felony offenses, like felony class 5 or 6. Crimes that are characterized as a Class 1 misdemeanor offense in Virginia include:

  1. Assault and battery. Assault is the intent to involve in an offensive or harmful contact even if the suspicious had no criminal contact with the actual victim. Battery is defined as causing harmful, physical contact.
  2. Reckless driving. An individual can be charged with reckless driving if he or she is driving 20 miles/h over the maximum speed level or in excess of 80 miles/h no matter what the posted speed limit is.
  3. Petit larceny. This is the stealing of goods, property, and money and also shoplifting. If the worth of what is stolen is over $200, this could result into a felony charge.
  4. Domestic assault. Domestic violence involves an action against a household or a family member that involves force, threats or violence. And causes the victim to undergo physical injury or fear of harm or injury.
  5. DUI. If a person’s BAC is 0.08 percent or more, he can be charged with DUI of alcohol. Also, Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense as well and can involve being intoxicated on drugs.

Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine not exceeding $2,500, or both of these punishments. In addition, some offenses, such as DUI, could involve loss of driving privileges and other penalties.