Misdemeanors are crimes for which the maximum penalty is generally one year or less in prison. There are 4 classes of misdemeanors in Virginia.
The maximum punishments for each are as follows:
- Class 1: confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and/or a fine of not more than $2,500;
- Class 2: confinement in jail for not more than six months and/or a fine of not more than $1,000;
- Class 3: a fine of not more than $500;
- Class 4: a fine of not more than $250.
Misdemeanors generally start and end in General District Court (or Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court). Your first court date is known as an arraignment. There, the judge will advise you of the charge, determine whether you have a right to counsel, and, if so, determine eligibility for court-appointed counsel. You will then be assigned a second court date which is generally your trial date. Even if you don’t have a legal right to counsel, or you do not qualify for court-appointed counsel, you are free to hire your own criminal attorney at any time. This should be done as soon as possible before your trial date.