What Is a Felony Charge and How Are Felonies Punishable in the State of Virginia?

A felony charge, in the United States, is classified by the seriousness of the offense, and the punishment associated with that offense. Felony convictions carry penalties that include a year in jail to a lifetime in prison. In addition to incarceration, a convicted felon can also receive huge fines, and it is possible, depending on the classification of the felony charge, that the death penalty can be imposed. The death penalty is usually only given to people convicted of murder, although treason is still considered a crime punishable by death. There are several crimes that are considered felony crimes. The following crimes can be classified as felony criminal charges:

  • Rape
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Treason
  • Kidnapping
  • Driving While Intoxicated
  • Weapons Violations
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Domestic Violence/Child Abuse
  • And, as mentioned, Murder.

Not all felonies are weighted with the same type of punishment. Felonies are classified by a numerical system and differ from state to state, although in some states they are classified with letters instead of numbers. Each classification of felony crimes, whether it is alphabetical or numerical, takes into consideration the seriousness of the crime involved. The classifications in the state of Virginia range from Class 6 to Class 1 felonies. The least serious felony in Virginia is a Class 6 felony. Some examples of Class 6 felony crimes are falsifying an address in order to vote, promoting a pyramid scheme, or violating insurance laws. In some states, a Class 4 felony is the lowest felony you can be charged with, while other states, like Virginia, recognize Class 5 or Class 6 felonies. A Class 4 felony is associated with forgery, fraud, and racketeering. Some states recognize domestic crimes, such as stalking, under a Class 4 felony as well.

In the state of Virginia, the following punishments are given to each classification:

  • Class 1 Felony: Life in prison, the death penalty, and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
  • Class 2 Felony: 20 years to life in prison, and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
  • Class 3 Felony: Five to 20 years in prison, and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
  • Class 4 Felony: Two to 10 years in prison, and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
  • Class 5 Felony: One to 10 years in prison, or up to 12 months in jail, and a potential fine of $2,500.
  • Class 6 Felony: One to five years in prison, or up to 12 months in jail, and a potential fine of $2,500.

For those whose convictions allow them to be released from prison, there are additional penalties that can be imposed after their incarceration. For example, in Virginia, convicted felons who arerehabilitatedand return to society cannot vote in elections. Also, felons are not usually permitted to carry guns. There are some instances where this can be waived depending on the felony charge, and if the crime was a violent crime. All of this is in addition to a felony record, which can impede a person from future employment, housing, and credit opportunities.

If you are facing felony charges, it is imperative that you find an experienced attorney who will assist you in your trial. From your arrest to navigating the trial procedures, there are many factors can add up to your release, or a lower felony classification. There is also the opportunity to move from a felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Legal representation under these circumstances can mean the difference between life in prison and a reduced sentence.

This was a guest post by Kogan Prober, P.A. Attorneys at Law. They are a team of Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys. They specialize in drug crimes offenses, DUI, felony offenses, sex crimes offenses, violent crimes offenses, white collar crimes and more. They offer free consultation for any of these types of criminal cases and can be contacted online at their website.


  1. j lammey says:

    my son has been charged with 6 felonies. i don’t think I can help him. his lawyer wants 17,000. the charges in virginia are possession with intent to manuf/sell and guns with proximity to drugs. heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs. can i get him off?

  2. I was convicted by a trail for temporary posession of a controlled substance. The substance belonged to a friend I knew who just was robbed and shot. He fainted on me and handed me his drugs. The policed arrested me for the charge of temporary drug possession. I took it to trial and lost and served. Six months in shock incarceration and returned home. This was in 1993. Now I want to apply for a carry permit. I keep hearing all people with felonies can’t carry. Is this true? Its been 18 years can I apply?


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