What Is The Punishment For A Class 5 Felony In Virginia?
There are six different classes of felonies in the code of Virginia, with a Class 1 felony being the most serious and the class 6 being the least serious. The crime classification of a Class 5 felony can land the convicted in jail for less than one year or up to ten years max. A Class 5 felony offense is subject to lesser sentences than the first four felonies, and depending on the conditions of the crime, may even be prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony offense.
A “Wobbler” Crime?
A Class 5 felony is symbolically recognized as a “wobbler” in criminal law because the crime treads a fine line between felony and misdemeanor charges, depending on how the prosecution chooses to treat it. As such, the sentences for a conviction can range broadly. Wobbler crimes are also known as mix crimes. Although a prosecution has the choice of charging a Class 5 wobbler crime as a misdemeanor or a felony, a judge, a magistrate or the jury can also tip the scale, sentencing a wobbler as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on how they choose to treat the conviction.
What’s the Difference in Punishment?
When treated as a misdemeanor, a Class 5 felony can result in either up to one year in jail and no more than $2,500 fine, or both. If convicted as a felony, a Class 5 results in one to 10 years in prison. Having a Class 5 felony reduced to a misdemeanor can not only save the convicted significant jail time, it is much easier to set aside or remove a misdemeanor conviction than a felony.
Typical crimes that fall into the Class 5 felony category include battery, involuntary manslaughter and extortion. Other examples of wobbler offenses include certain DUI charges resulting in serious harm or death, theft and receiving stolen property, burglary, willful neglect and domestic violence.
Because a Class 5 felony is the least serious of felonies in Virginia, you may benefit from consulting an attorney to defend you when charged with a wobbler crime; however, the presence of aggravating factors in your case may cause your crime to be elevated to a felony. You might have a better chance of having your wobbler sentenced as a misdemeanor – avoiding prison – with strong legal representation and the absence of aggravating factors. Examples of aggravating factors which could elevate the perceived severity of your crime include: alcohol or drug involvement, serious bodily injury or death to the victim; whether the victim is a woman, child or law enforcement; and possession of a gun during the crime.