What Is a Class IV Misdemeanor in Virginia?

By Donny Quinn
Some Virginia laws extend back to the pre-Colonial period.

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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.

Misdemeanor

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.

Punishments

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.

Sample Misdemeanors

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.

About the Author

Donny Quinn has been writing professionally since 2002 and has been published on various websites. He writes technical manuals for a variety of companies, including restaurants, hotels and salons. Quinn is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at Georgia State University.

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