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What Is A Felony?

What Is A Felony?

Felonies are the most serious of crimes, and the minimum penalty under the law always calls for at least one year in prison. There are six classes of felonies in Virginia.

Maximum Punishments for Felonies

The maximum punishments are as follows:

  • Class 1: life imprisonment or death and a fine not to exceed $100,000;
  • Class 2: imprisonment for 20 years to life and a fine not to exceed $100,000;
  • Class 3: imprisonment for 5 years to 20 years and a fine not to exceed $100,000;
  • Class 4: imprisonment for 2 years to 10 years and a fine not to exceed $100,000;
  • Class 5: imprisonment for 1 year to 10 years (or 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine)
  • Class 6: imprisonment for 1 year to 5 years (or 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine)

Felonies begin in either General District Court or Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. After an arraignment, the next court date is generally a preliminary hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient probable cause for charging the accused with the alleged crime. If the judge determines that there is enough evidence to support the probable cause, the case will be presented to the grand jury for indictment. Once indicted, a trial date will be set in Circuit Court.

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