Fighting an Unfair Criminal System

Let’s be honest; there is no such thing as a “good” felony charge. Even a lesser felony has the potential to ruin your life. Felons can be denied good jobs and safe housing and can face harsh judgments from their community.

Everyone does understand that not all felonies are treated equally. Some felony charges will garner more hate from society than others. When people are charged with violent crimes, society tends to want to keep those people distant. If someone is convicted of a sex crime, they are often ostracized. Even a felony DUI conviction can land someone on the wrong side of their community.

The fact of the matter is any felony charge will feel like a serious felony charge to the person whose life is affected by that charge.

What should you do if you are facing a felony charge that has the potential to derail your life completely? How do you better understand your options when you’re facing a serious criminal charge? Find out how Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC can help you through this difficult time.

What is Considered a Serious Felony?

As we’ve already said, all felonies feel serious, especially to the person who is impacted by the felony charge. However, there are certain crimes that society generally considers as more serious than others.

Suppose someone receives a felony because they repeatedly got caught doing the same crime, a crime that is often charged as a misdemeanor unless someone repeatedly commits those crimes. In that case, most people will not see that as a serious felony.

Here are some crimes that are generally seen as serious:

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • A felony that results in serious injury
  • Robbery
  • Selling major drugs to children

When you look at this list, you can see why these crimes are taken so seriously and why they demand serious action. If you are being charged with a crime on this list, you may be horrified to see your charge listed next to the likes of murder and rape.

How Are Felonies Punished in Virginia?

Virginia has six different classes of felonies, with Class 1 felonies being the worst offenses and Class 6 felonies being the least severe. Here is how felonies are classified and punished in Virginia.

Class 1 Felonies

Prison: Life in prison without options for early release.

Fines: Up to $100,000

Aggravated murder is an example of a Class 1 felony

Class 2 Felonies

Prison: Up to 20 years.

Fines: Up to $100,000

First-degree murder, armed bank robbery, and kidnapping are examples of Class 2 felonies.

Class 3 Felonies

Prison: 5-20 Years.

Fines: Up to $100,000

Burglary is usually charged as a Class 3 felony.

Class 4 Felonies

Prison: 2-10 Years.

Fines: Up to $100,000

Possession of a modified shotgun and forgery of public documents can get you charged with a class 4 felony.

Class 5 Felonies

Prison: 1-10 Years.

Fines: Up to $2,500

Class 5 felonies are seen as “wobblers.” Wobblers are crimes that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on how the courts treat a conviction. Manslaughter and illegally carrying a weapon are examples of Class 5 felonies.

Class 6 Felonies

Prison: 1-5 years.

Fines: Up to $2,500

Class 6 felonies are also considered wobblers. Willful discharge of a firearm in public and a third DUI in 10 years are both examples of a Class 6 felony.

Class 1, 2, and 3 felonies are generally considered serious felonies. The fact that someone charged with one of the classes of a felony can face life in prison and fines climbing up to $100,000, not including legal fees or restitution, really shows how being convicted of one of these crimes can ruin your life.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

You absolutely don’t have to fight a felony charge. However, the first thing you should realize when deciding whether or not to fight a felony charge is the fact that you are gambling with your life.

If you successfully defend yourself, or your public defender manages to win your felony court trial, then congratulations, you saved some money. However, can you afford to lose? Can you afford to spend five, ten, or even life in prison? Can you pay the lofty fines? Will your life ever be the same?

The next thing you have to understand about a felony is that people stop listening as soon as they hear you have been charged with a felony.

You might be able to explain away a misdemeanor to a potential landlord or employer. People tend to understand that stuff happens and that your misdemeanor might have been a little unfair. People charged with a misdemeanor may feel like they can live a normal life without the need to fight a misdemeanor conviction.

But when your potential landlord sees a felony on your record, they are done listening. They likely won’t listen to your explanation of why you don’t think the felony is fair. If a felony conviction shows up on an employment background, your application will likely be scrapped, and you probably won’t get that job you really wanted. You might not be able to get any of the jobs you wanted.

A criminal defense attorney does more than take your money and show up to court. Collecting evidence, investigating your arrest, ensuring the cops followed all the rules, hiring industry experts, and preparing you for the battle of a trial situation. These are all things criminal defense attorneys do to fight for your freedoms.

You and your criminal defense attorney will work together to build a solid case. When studying your case, your criminal defense attorney will determine the best course of action, the likelihood of your charges being reduced to less serious charges, or, better yet, your charges altogether dropped!

When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Like many things in life, the sooner you get in front of this, the better. Sure, you could go with the public defender offered to you by the court and forego hiring your own criminal defense attorney. Did you know that public defenders are overworked and underpaid? Their caseload grows daily, and if your folder falls on their desk, you might get someone who is experienced and will take your case seriously. But do you want to gamble on that?

Can an Attorney Help?

If you have been charged with a felony, no matter how serious, call 540-386-1277 to schedule your free consultation with the knowledgeable team of Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC.

Your free consultation is all it takes to get the ball rolling with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will take your case and afford it the professional attention that you deserve. Don’t gamble with your freedom; call 540-386-1277 now!


Contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC Offices Today!

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