Fairfax Misdemeanor Lawyer
A misdemeanor charge is one that, in general, carries a maximum jail sentence of less than one year. A misdemeanor conviction may also result in fines and penalties, as well as the risk of losing professional licensure or difficultly obtaining employment in the future. As part of your misdemeanor defense, your Fairfax misdemeanor lawyer may advocate for alternative sentencing measures, including probation, or community service. Your attorney will also fight to keep the conviction off of your official criminal history; this is particularly important if you need a clean record to maintain or obtain employment in your particular field.
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious in nature than felonies and generally do not involve extreme violence or extensive property damage. First or second DUI charges, simple assault, petty theft (e.g., shoplifting) or disorderly conduct are all examples of misdemeanor crimes. However, multiple and repeated charges for the same misdemeanor crime could eventually result in a felony charge and possible lengthy jail time or hefty fines. For example, a third or fourth DUI conviction may result in a felony charge. A theft crime may be classified as a felony if the value of the stolen item is in excess of a certain dollar amount.
Those charged with a misdemeanor offense are often eligible for representation by a public defender and may be tempted to try and defend the charges pro se. This is unwise for a number of reasons and could result in an unnecessary conviction when an ample defense may have been available. When you first meet with your Fairfax misdemeanor lawyer, you will discuss the facts surrounding your arrest and charge, including the events leading up to the incident and any mischaracterizations you believe were made by the arresting officers. Preparation for your misdemeanor trial may include any of the following:
- Interviewing witnesses and preparing witnesses to testify;
- Reviewing lab reports or the details of a field sobriety test;
- Speaking with arresting officers and examining the details contained in the arrest report;
- Negotiating with the prosecutor to obtain a dismissal or reduction in charges;
- Offering an alternative sentencing arrangement to include rehabilitative treatment, or;
- Arguing for the suppression of certain evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
A Fairfax misdemeanor lawyer cannot guarantee any particular outcome for your misdemeanor case, but certain factors may make it more likely that you will obtain a favorable result. For instance, if this is your first brush with the law or it has been a number of years since your last conviction, this factor could gain you favor with the judge. Also, in cases involving drugs or alcohol, successful completion of an education course or treatment program could result in a dismissal or expungement of your arrest or conviction record.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia a misdemeanor is defined as an offense that can have a penalty of up to twelve months in jail. Virginia law classifies misdemeanors into four classes:
- Class 1 Misdemeanors are the most common and are the most serious. Class 1 Misdemeanors include: assault and battery, petit larceny, stalking, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, domestic assault and battery, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, trespassing, and many others. Class 1 Misdemeanors are punishable by fines up to two thousand five hundred dollars ($ 2,500), and/or a maximum jail sentence of up to twelve months.
- Class 2 Misdemeanors include smaller degrees of Class 1 Misdemeanors, such as possession of a fictitious ID and first offense driving without a valid operator’s license. A Class 2 Misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to one thousand dollars ($ 1,000) in fines and/or up to six months in jail.
- Class 3 Misdemeanors go without the possibility of a jail sentence. Class 3 Misdemeanors are punishable by up to five hundred dollars ($ 500) in fines.
- Class 4 Misdemeanors are the least severe of all Virginia misdemeanors. Like Class 3 Misdemeanors, Class 4 Misdemeanors hold no possibility of a jail sentence and carry only a possible fine of up to two hundred fifty dollars ($ 250).
Virginia also has Unclassified Misdemeanors with varying fine amounts and varying jail time sentences. Unclassified Misdemeanors can include a charge for a first time possession of marijuana, which depends on the number of ounces in possession. These kinds of misdemeanors are specific to the statute of the crime involved. Minor misdemeanors are called infractions. Infractions often only are punishably by a fine. A majority of misdemeanors are issued by a summons from the arresting officer or a warrant from a magistrate.
Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor may be a great result for someone originally charged with a felony. If a misdemeanor is the most serious charge you’re facing, however, it makes sense to consult with an experienced Fairfax misdemeanor lawyer and find out if there is any possibility of having the charged dismissed, being found not guilty, or at the very least avoiding jail time.
If you were recently arrested or charged with a misdemeanor, contact our criminal defense law firm as soon as possible so that we can formulate effective defense strategy to protect your rights and livelihood.