A Brief Primer On Felony in Virginia

There are several types of Felonies in Virginia. Let’s look at what they are, and the punishments for each Felony.

Class 1 Felonies are punishable by life imprisonment, death, or a fine of no more than one hundred thousand dollars. The only example of Class 1 felonies in Virginia are premeditated murder under special circumstances.

Class 2 Felonies are punishable by imprisonment from life to no less than twenty years, or a fine of no more than one hundred thousand dollars. Examples of Class 2 felonies include certain types of murder, sexual crimes and kidnapping.

Class 3 Felonies can have a punishable prison term of no less than five years but nor more than twenty years in a state facility. Drug crimes, kidnapping and manslaughter may be designated a Class 3 felony. A fine of no more than one hundred thousand dollars is also possible.

Class 4 Felonies can have a prison term of no less than two years and no more than ten years in a state facility with a possible fine of no more than one hundred thousand dollars. Examples of Class 4 crimes include embezzlement and other white collar crimes, drug crimes, and arson.

Class 5 Felonies can carry a prison sentence of no less than one year and no more than ten years. At the discretion of the court, confinement in a county jail for no more than twelve months is also possible with a fine of no more than twenty-five hundred dollars. An individual can be sentenced to one or both of these punishments. Examples of Class 5 felonies include DWI, involuntary manslaughter, and extortion.

Class 6 Felonies can have prison terms of no less than one year and no more than five years, or like Class 5 Felonies, confinement in a county jail facility for no more than twelve months is possible. A fine of twenty-five hundred dollars is also possible. Class 6 felonies include reckless endangerment, animal cruelty, or repeated larcenies.

For any questions regarding a Felony in Virginia, please contact our office at: 703-934-0101.

Increase in George Mason Drug Arrests

In 2009, officers working for the George Mason police department made 11 drug arrests. Just two years later, their number increased to 120 arrests in 2011. Arrests for drugs found on the George Mason campus are handled in the Fairfax County General District Court. They are processed the same as drug and marijuana arrests throughout Fairfax.

These numbers come from the University’s Fire and Safety Report. The statistics were first reported by the Washington Post. The paper cites Police Chief Mike Lynch as denying an increase in police as the cause of the spike. Rather, the Chief believes the increases are based on the type of concerts recently booked by the Mason Campus’ Patriot Center.

The Chief says that these concerts attract crowds that aren’t always students. And that at some of these concerts drug and marijuana use is rampant. The chief specifically cites one concert that resulted in 40 arrests to drug and marijuana charges alone.

Marijuana and other drug arrests on the GMU campus are handled the same as arrests anywhere else in Fairfax County. That means that every arrested person has certain rights. It also means that the arrest may have very serious consequences on a person’s long-term goals. At the very least all drug convictions require a 6 month suspension of driver’s license. For these reasons alone it is worth talking to a qualified marijuana and drug attorney with extensive experience in the Fairfax court system.

Reckless Driving In Virginia

There are many variables that come into play in determining if a lawyer is needed for a Reckless Driving ticket in Virginia. It’s often a cost benefit analysis looking at the cost of hiring a lawyer versus the possible consequences of a Reckless Driving in Virginia conviction. At lower speeds there are times where the consequences aren’t sufficient to justify hiring a lawyer. Instead of paying a lawyer’s fees, it may be easier to just go to court by yourself. If you walk away with a small fine, your insurance may increase. But if the increase is less than the lawyer’s fee you’ve saved money doing it yourself, despite the worse result in court.

That much said, ALWAYS TALK TO A LAWYER FIRST. Many, including my office offer honest, free assessments of your case. There may be unintended collateral consequences and it’s important to learn of these before court. This is particularly the case for DC drivers. As written previously in the Washington Post, on September 21st, Mike Debonis wrote an article about the plight of DC drivers convicted of Reckless Driving in Fairfax and other Virginia locations.

The problem deals with the way the District DMV interpreted the term Reckless Driving. Under VA law, Reckless Driving in Virginia is driving at any speed 20 miles over the limit or any speed over 80 regardless of the speed limit. So 81mph in a 65mph zone is Reckless Driving. 77 in a 55 is also Reckless. This is obviously a very low standard and police in VA issue these tickets frequently.

However, under the laws of the District of Columbia Reckless Driving has a much stronger definition and severe penalties. The DC DMV interprets a Reckless Driving in Virginia conviction the same as a DC conviction. A DC conviction carries with it 12 demerit points and a 6 month loss of license. According to the article, the problem became increased as Virginia started reporting to the DC DMV more regularly. The director for the DC DMV reported that in fiscal year 2011, their office received zero notifications of Reckless Driving convictions in Virginia for DC drivers. However, since October 2011, her office had learned of 362 cases. She also stated that in each and every case the conviction resulted in a 6 month loss of license.

The article cites a number of individuals who suffered under DC’s extreme view of these cases. One had to hire a driver during his suspension. Another began riding a bike 11 miles to work. A third was actually arrested for driving on suspended after she was stopped by police during her suspension.

At the hearing, the DC DMV director admitted she had received over 70 letters from people who had suffered.

The article concludes by pointing out that recent changes should help DC drivers. The attorney general and a new bill are working to protect DC driver’s from this type of extreme punishment. Two drivers specifically were stated as having their suspensions dropped.

However, the fact remains that anytime you go into court, whether for traffic or criminal there will be a judge in the courtroom. And that judge will have the power to make a decision that can impact your life in ways you may not think possible. A good Reckless Driving attorney will be able to tell you what potential outcomes may occur. A lot of the time hiring a lawyer may be unnecessary. But until you talk to one you can’t know for sure. Certainly the 362 DC drivers who lost their licenses wish that had consulted an attorney before unnecessarily having to walk for 6 months.

Women Pleads To To Virginia Dwi After Crashing 2 Different Cars

In February, a Virginia State Trooper was dispatched to a reported vehicle accident. When the trooper arrived he found a vehicle in a ditch. Upon going to the nearest home the trooper was able to locate the woman he would later charge with DWI.

The woman told the trooper she had been in an accident in her Pontiac. This was confusing to the trooper because the vehicle in the ditch was a Ford. Upon further questioning the woman admitted that she crashed her vehicle, the Pontiac, up the street. She then went to unattended vehicle in the driveway. Without permission from the owner, the Defendant stole the car. She only drove a short distance before also crashing the stolen vehicle.

The officer described her as being unsteady on her feet, having slurred speech and strong odor of alcohol. The trooper said she told him she had ingested 2 Vicodin pulls, 4 beers, and 3 mixed drinks. She then refused to do any sobriety tests or a Breathalyzer test.

At the plea date, her Virginia DWI lawyer asked the judge to allow her to stay out of jail pending sentencing. Despite having a mandatory jail sentence the judge did allow her to remain out of jail until her sentencing hearing.

Fairfax Police Work To Stop Drinking And Driving And Underage Possession Of Alcohol

As any Fairfax Drunk Driving Lawyer will tell you the police are very aggressive in making arrests for drunk driving and underage possession of alcohol.Today, the Fairfax police announced a series of 5 public forums designed to address drinking and driving. The forums will focus specifically on individuals ages 15-24. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, this age group has accounted for nearly 2,000 alcohol related traffic accidents in Fairfax alone in the last 5 years.

The issue came to light after Fairfax police made arrests of a number of juveniles for underage possession of alcohol and possession of marijuana. Fairfax Police observed one of the teens vomiting in the Kingstowne Center parking lot.