West Virginia Criminal Defense

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West Virginia Criminal Defense
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west virginia criminal defenseCharged with a Crime in West Virginia?

Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties

A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.

If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local West Virginia criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.

What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?

The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:

  • Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
  • Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
  • Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
  • Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.

What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in West Virginia?

Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in West Virginia are:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor. A maximum sentence of 12 months in a county jail and a fine of $2,500.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor. A maximum sentence of six months in a county jail and a fine of $1,000.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor. A fine of $500 and usually no jail time.
  • Class 4 Misdemeanor. A fine of $250 and usually no jail time.

Examples of West Virginia misdemeanors include a first DUI offense, possession of marijuana, and minor forms of assault. However, you won’t find a certain misdemeanor always follows with a certain punishment. West Virginia uses a modified “by-crime” classification, which usually means a judge or jury will have the final say as to what the fine and/or jail time with the crime and its circumstances in consideration.

What Is the Penalty for a Felony in West Virginia?

Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In West Virginia, possible felony charges and penalties include:

  • Class 1 Felony. These are the most serious offenses, such as murder, and are punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty.
  • Class 2 Felony. These are punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
  • Class 3 Felony. These crimes carry a sentence of between five and 25 years in prison.
  • Class 4 Felony. These are punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
  • Class 5 Felony. These carry a fine of $2,500 and imprisonment of one to 10 years.
  • Class 6 Felony. The maximum sentence for these is a $2,500 fine and five years in a state penitentiary.

Examples of West Virginia felonies, aside from murder, include most forms of sexual assault, serious or repeat offenses of assault and battery, distribution of drugs and many white collar crimes. However, aside from murder, you won’t find a certain felony always follows with a certain punishment. West Virginia uses a modified “by-crime” classification, which usually means a judge or jury will have the final say as to what the fine and/or jail time with the crime and its circumstances in consideration.

Need a West Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help

If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a West Virginia criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.

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