Life provides so many things to worry about -- bills, education, family -- adding a run-in with the judicial system can make life seem overwhelming. If you or someone you know recently acquired a Class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia, things will seem less overwhelming if you know all of the possible punishments and the steps to clearing up your crime.
The two major classes of crimes are misdemeanors and felonies, and both differ drastically in purpose, punishment and encompassed crimes. While the label "felony" covers serious charges, the term "misdemeanor" applies to less-serious crimes. Usually, the prosecutor does not need to seek a grand jury's indictment. Because of the less-serious nature of these crimes, some areas do not provide legal counsel for misdemeanors. Additionally, misdemeanor charges do not lead to the removal of certain rights and privileges, such as voting rights and jury rights, and they usually keep someone from securing a job.
The punishment for a Class 4 misdemeanor cannot exceed a fine of $250, with no imprisonment, unless combined with another crime, according to Virginia.gov. It is considered the smallest misdemeanor. Larger misdemeanors (Classes 3, 2 and 1) come with higher fines and possible time in a county or city jail. No Virginia misdemeanor generally leads to time in state prison.
Criminal Versus Civil
Virginia separates criminal and civil penalties, so that any action of criminal court cannot prevent injured parties from seeking financial restitution. Conversely, civil court penalties do not mitigate the criminal penalties laid down by criminal court. Because Class 4 misdemeanors generally do not create financial burdens for injured parties (and often do not directly injure another party), many of these cases won't end up in civil court.
In Virginia, Class 4 misdemeanors include: the possession of any schedule VI drug (the least restricted drugs), restricting the commission of duty of an animal control officer and trespassing upon a cemetery at night. All of these crimes are considered minor offenses, and they deal less with actual injury and more with potential danger or potential injury.