Criminal Lawyer Fairfax VA
When you break the law, there are three main levels of classification: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each represents a wide variety of illegal behavior with a wide variety of punishments. In this post, a Fairfax VA criminal lawyer shares what each classification means and how it could impact your life if you’re convicted of one of these crimes.
Infractions are petty offenses. This is behavior that is against the law but is not serious enough to warrant a strong punishment. Sometimes infractions are not considered criminal offenses and, therefore, you can’t be sent to jail as a result of committing an infraction.
Examples of infractions include traffic violations, littering, jaywalking, drinking in public, fishing without a license, etc. If you commit an infraction, you will be given a citation to either pay a fine or go to court. Because these offenses are minor and you aren’t facing any punishments that jeopardize your freedom, you don’t have the right to a free criminal lawyer (you can still pay for one though). You do have the right for your case to be heard by a judge, you can call witnesses to plead your case, and you have the right to appeal.
Misdemeanors are the next step up in severity from infractions but are less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine and you could spend time in your local jail. There are also three levels of misdemeanors: petty, ordinary, and high. You can be sentenced based on the severity of your crime. States have the right to determine what level the crime is classified at and what type of penalty you should receive.
While states may be flexible in their classifications, federal misdemeanors have very strict guidelines as well as punishments. Class A misdemeanor results in a sentence of six months to a year in jail. Class B is 30 days to six months in jail. Class C is 5 to 30 days in jail.
The most serious offense is a felony. These are generally crimes involving a victim of some sorts and as a result, the punishment is the most severe. If charged with a felony you could face a large fine, imprisonment for more than a year, or both. The system is set up in distinct classes meaning that if you commit multiple felonies, you can have a more severe sentence.
If you are an immigrant and you commit a felony, you will be deported to your home country. Many states also have a “three strikes law” which is where you can be punished more severely after the third time committing the same crime. Sometimes felonies are determined based on the location. of the punishment. For example, if you were sentenced to time in state or federal prison, then you committed a felony.
It’s important that you know what type of charges and punishments you are facing so you can build a defense against it. If you are facing an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony charge, you should reach out to a criminal lawyer Fairfax VA clients depend on. They can help you create a strategy to help get you the best result possible. Contact our office to find out how we can help.