In Prince William County and the rest of Virginia there are two types of criminal traffic charges drivers can face: misdemeanors and felonies. Below a Prince William County traffic lawyer discusses each type of offense and what type of crimes fall under each category. For more information, or to seek experienced legal consultation call and schedule a consultation today.
A traffic misdemeanor is a traffic offense that is designated by Virginia law as being a crime. It’s different from a traffic infraction in that if a person is convicted of a traffic misdemeanor they face suspended or active jail time, they will have a criminal conviction on their record, and their license may be suspended. Some examples of traffic misdemeanors are:
Traffic misdemeanor cases in Prince William County are heard by the Prince William County General District Court unless the accused is a minor in which case they are heard by the Prince William County Juvenile and Domestic Relations General District Court.
Now, you can also appeal a misdemeanor traffic conviction to the Prince William County Circuit Court. Virginia law says that anytime a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in Virginia that they have a right of appeal to a Circuit Court where they will receive a new trial in front of a different judge.
The penalties for conviction of misdemeanor traffic offenses, in the other hand, are potentially very serious. They may include suspended or active jail time of up to twelve months per offense, fines of up to $2,500 per offense, and depending on the traffic misdemeanor, suspension of driving privileges of up to three years.
A traffic felony is the most serious kind of traffic offense. A felony involves an offense which has been designated under Virginia law as carrying a penalty of more than one year in jail. In addition, as with other felonies, conviction also results in the loss of other important rights such as the right to vote, the right to run for public office, and the right to carry a firearm.
The difference between a felony and a traffic misdemeanor is the amount of jail time that is available, which is more than a year for a felony, and other possible penalties which include much higher fines as well as the loss of civil rights. If a person is convicted of a felony and sentenced to more than a year of incarceration, they will serve that sentence in a Virginia prison as opposed to a misdemeanor conviction where the person will serve their sentence in a local jail.
Some examples of traffic felonies are DUI third or subsequent offense, DUI manslaughter, or hit and run where someone is injured. Traffic felony cases are heard in the Prince William County Circuit Court. A person can appeal a felony traffic conviction from the Circuit Court to the Virginia Court of Appeals. However, unlike the appeal of an infraction or a misdemeanor, this is not an appeal where a person to receive a new trial. Instead, there must have been some error committed by the judge in the case, or in some cases the prosecution, which will cause the appellate court to overturn the conviction and in many cases order a new trial.
Some of the possible penalties for traffic felonies include terms of imprisonment of up to life, depending on the seriousness of the offense, suspension of driving privileges for three years, or in some cases complete revocation of driving privileges which then must be restored by a Circuit Court if they are ever restored. Other the serious consequences of a felony include the loss of civil rights such as the right to vote, the right to run for public office, and the right to possess a firearm.
Finally, felony charges have the most far reaching consequences in an individual’s life often making it difficult for them to secure employment, to secure a place to rent, or to be accepted into schools they may apply to.
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