Criminal Defense Attorney in Virginia

Facing criminal charges can be one of the most stressful events that anyone will go through in life.

If you have been charged with a crime, you may be worried about a conviction and a resulting sentence that may include fines and jail or prison time. You may also be concerned about the long-term consequences of a criminal record on your personal and professional life.

When you face a criminal charge, it is important to work with an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer who will give you a straightforward assessment of your options, potential defenses, and legal strategies. Samantha Upton has built her law firm on giving clients an honest take on what they face and a realistic view of how their problems can be resolved. She fights for the best possible outcome for her clients in every case.

To learn more about what you can do to defend your rights and freedom, contact the Upton Law, PLLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You will be quoted a flat fee for how much your case will cost, and you will never pay more than that, no matter what.

Common Types of Criminal Charges

In Virginia, criminal charges fall into one of two categories: misdemeanors and the more serious felonies.


Misdemeanors include less serious offenses under Virginia law. Potential penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include fines and jail time of up to 12 months. Misdemeanor offenses are further divided into four classes, with Class 4 misdemeanors being the least serious offenses and Class 1 misdemeanors being the most serious. Examples of misdemeanors under Virginia law include:


Felonies in Virginia include more serious criminal offenses. A felony conviction could result in a prison sentence of at least one year and up to life imprisonment for the most serious felony offenses. A capital case can result in the imposition of the death penalty. Felonies are divided into six classes, with Class 6 felonies being the least serious and Class 1 felonies being the most serious. Examples of felonies in Virginia include:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Malicious wounding
  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Human trafficking
  • Child abuse
  • Forging of public records
  • Extortion
  • Petit larceny 3rd offense
  • Grand larceny
  • Possession of a schedule I/II substance
  • Drug distribution
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon
  • Assault on law enforcement
  • Solicitation of a minor
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Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia, the sentence will depend on the grading of your criminal charges and other factors such as the details of the incident underlying your charge and your prior criminal history. Sentencing ranges for a conviction in Virginia include:


  • Class 1 – Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • Class 2 – Up to six months jail time and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Class 3 – Fine of up to $500
  • Class 4 – Fine of up to $250


  • Class 1 – Up to life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 2 – 20 years to life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 3 – Five to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 4 – Two to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 5 – One to 10 years imprisonment or, in the discretion of the judge or jury, up to 12 months jail time, along with a potential fine of up to $2,500
  • Class 6 – One to five years imprisonment or, in the discretion of the judge or jury, up to 12 months jail time, along with a potential fine of up to $2,500

Many misdemeanor and felony convictions also come with collateral consequences. For example, traffic-related criminal convictions may result in the court ordering the suspension of your driving privileges for a certain period or the permanent revocation of your driver’s license. Conviction for sex crimes may require you to register as a sex offender.

Finally, having a criminal record can result in lifelong personal and professional consequences. For example, a criminal record may disqualify you from obtaining various professional licenses or government benefits. Having a felony conviction can also disqualify you from being eligible to vote or to possess a firearm.

Criminal records qualify as public records that can show up on a background check. As a result, a criminal conviction could make it difficult for you to apply for housing, employment, or educational opportunities. For this reason, it is important to take any criminal charge in Virginia seriously and seek help from a criminal defense attorney who will work hard to pursue the best possible outcome for you.


Mental Condition Admissible Re: Requisite Intent

HB 2047: Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Permits the admission of evidence by the defendant concerning a defendant’s mental condition at the time of an alleged offense, including expert testimony, if such evidence is relevant and is not evidence concerning an ultimate issue of fact and (i) tends to show the defendant did or did not have the intent required for the offense charged and (ii) is otherwise admissible pursuant to the general rules of evidence. The bill provides that to establish a mental condition for such purposes, the defendant must show that his condition existed at the time of the offense and that such condition satisfies the diagnostic criteria for (a) a mental illness, as defined in the bill; (b) an intellectual or developmental disability, as defined in the bill; or (c) an autism spectrum disorder, as defined in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. If a defendant intends to present such evidence, the bill requires him or his counsel to give notice in writing to the attorney for the Commonwealth within specified time periods. The bill also clarifies that a court, in addition to a magistrate, may enter an emergency custody order in such cases if the criteria required under current law for emergency custody orders are met.

The bill clarifies that a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability shall be considered by a judicial officer for the purpose of rebuttal of a presumption against bail and that a court may order that a sentencing report prepared by a probation officer contain any diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability.

The bill also adds to the requirements to be met for initial and re-certification as a court appointed attorney two hours of continuing legal education, which shall cover the representation of individuals with behavioral or mental health disorders and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Finally, the bill requires the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court to collect data regarding the cases that use the evidence made permissible in the bill and the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century to study and make recommendations about the standard of danger to self or others that may be appropriately applied for such persons found not guilty under the provisions of the bill in the issuance of emergency custody orders, involuntary temporary detention orders, or the ordering of other mandatory mental health treatments. This bill is identical to SB 1315.

How a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Take the Pressure Off You

Virginia criminal defense attorney Samantha Upton loves getting to know her clients and being the one who stands up for them. When you work with Samantha, she will help to relieve the stress and pressure of facing criminal charges by:

  • Taking the time to sit down with you to provide honest, straightforward advice about your case, answer your questions, and discuss realistic solutions
  • Offering compassionate service while recognizing the anxiety and stress that facing criminal charges can cause
  • Relying on her years of legal experience with handling criminal cases for clients throughout Virginia, including ones just like yours
  • Providing skillful advocacy both in court and outside court in discussions with prosecutors
  • Standing by you during every step of your case, including helping you appeal a conviction or seeking expungement of your record

When you work with Upton Law, PLLC, you will also get the added peace of mind that comes from no surprise fees or unexpected bills at the end of your case. You will be quoted a flat fee at the beginning of your case. Your case will never cost more than that quote, no matter how much time your attorney needs to put into your defense.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Virginia Now

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Virginia, you need to act quickly to protect your legal rights, your freedom, and your future. The criminal justice system can move swiftly once you have been arrested and charged. So, you may not have much time to make important decisions about your case.

Contact Upton Law, PLLC today and get started with a free and confidential consultation with a knowledgeable, persistent, and down-to-earth Virginia criminal defense lawyer. Upton Law, PLLC serves clients in Richmond and throughout Virginia, as well as people from out of state who are facing charges in Virginia.

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