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Criminal Defense
Criminal Defense
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Criminal Defense Attorney in Virginia

Key Takeaways

  • A criminal charge can have a serious impact on your life, even if it does not result in a conviction.
  • Prosecutors have vast resources to build a case against you. You need an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer who can fight for your rights and build a defense strategy for you.
  • Virginia classifies criminal offenses as felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious and can result in a prison sentence and a fine. Misdemeanors can result in jail time and a fine.
  • The classification of a criminal charge depends on the circumstances of the alleged offense. A first-time DUI charge, for example, is a misdemeanor, while someone with two prior DUI convictions in the previous ten years would face a felony charge. Drug possession is a misdemeanor for a Schedule III substance and a felony for a Schedule I or II substance.
  • Courts can expunge the records of many criminal cases that did not result in convictions. In 2025, expungement will become automatic in some cases.
  • A law that will take effect in 2025 will allow courts to seal records in certain criminal cases that involved deferrals or convictions for misdemeanors or minor felonies.
  • Some criminal cases include false accusations that a criminal defense attorney can help with.


Criminal charges lawyer after arrest

Take Your Criminal Charges Seriously. We Do.

Criminal charges are frightening, with good reason. A conviction can send you to jail, subject you to high fines, and leave you with a criminal record. The antidote to fear is a well-crafted, well-executed defense strategy. Most people need an experienced Virginia defense attorney to obtain a positive outcome, such as the following, after a criminal arrest or investigation:

  • Case dismissed
  • Probation
  • Reduced charges, fines and/or jail time
  • Reduced bail
  • First-time offender remedies, leaving you with no criminal record
  • Deferred prosecution, perhaps involving substance abuse treatment, anger management counseling, or restitution

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our legal team has 85 combined years of law practice experience. Our defense lawyers fight hard for clients’ freedom, futures, and best interests.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Virginia criminal law puts most criminal offenses into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. No matter what your unique scenario is, Randall & Bruch has got you covered.


A felony is a serious crime that carries a penalty of at least one year in prison and a fine. Virginia divides felony offenses into six classes, with Class 1 being the most serious and Class 6 the least.

  • A Class 1 felony conviction can result in life imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.
  • A Class 6 felony conviction can result in any of the following: 1-5 years of imprisonment, jail time of up to 12 months, and a fine of up to $2,500.

Virginia eliminated capital punishment in 2021, so the most severe penalty that a court can impose is life imprisonment without parole. More serious felony charges often result from violent crimes or crimes that involve large quantities of money or something else of value.

Examples of felony offenses in Virginia include:

  • Murder, including aggravated murder and second-degree murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Burglary;
  • Arson;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Child abuse;
  • Forging public records;
  • Major drug crimes, such as drug possession with intent to distribute;
  • White collar crime offenses;
  • Grand larceny; and
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) with two or more prior convictions in the past ten years.

The Commonwealth of Virginia will classify your offense as a misdemeanor or felony based on the severity of the alleged crime. For example, possession of more than an ounce of marijuana would be a simple misdemeanor, but the possession of many kilos of cocaine would be a very serious felony. A strong defense may mean persuading a prosecutor to reduce your charges to help you avoid the most severe penalties. Every case brings unique opportunities for a successful outcome.


man faced with criminal charges in Virginia court

A misdemeanor is a less serious crime that might result in a maximum twelve-month sentence. While prisons fall under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the federal government, local governments have authority over jails. Prisons only house people who have been convicted of criminal charges. Jails include people serving sentences for misdemeanor convictions and people awaiting trial.

Virginia divides misdemeanors into four classes. Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors can result in jail time and a fine. The penalties for Class 3 and 4 offenses are limited to fines.

Examples of Virginia misdemeanors include:

  • DUI with no more than one prior conviction in the last decade;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Other traffic offenses, such as driving without a license;
  • Minor drug offenses;
  • Assault and battery;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Petit larceny; and
  • Trespassing.

Common Cases Our Clients Face

We are prepared to take on practically any criminal matter. Whether you were accused of shoplifting or arrested on suspicion of a serious violent crime, we will work hard to improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Contact us as soon as you know or suspect that you have been or might be charged with a crime such as the following:

What is Considered “Reckless Driving” in Virginia?

The misdemeanor offense of reckless driving includes a wide range of traffic violations under Virginia criminal law. While drivers are probably familiar with many of the acts that constitute reckless driving, some are unique to Virginia and a few other states:

  • Driving in a way that “endanger[s] the life, limb, or property of any person;”
  • Driving with faulty brakes;
  • Passing a vehicle on a two-lane highway when the driver has an obstructed view of oncoming traffic;
  • Failing to slow down or move over when driving past a stopped emergency vehicle with its blue or red lights on; and
  • Driving over 85 miles per hour or more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

A reckless driving charge can have more serious consequences if the alleged act results in a car accident.

How to Expunge a Criminal Record In Virginia

Virginia law allows people to petition a court to remove arrests and criminal charges from the court’s files in a process known as “expungement.” A court can expunge the records of criminal cases with the following outcomes:

  • Dismissal of charges without a conviction;
  • Verdict of not guilty;
  • Arrests with no criminal charges or conviction;
  • Charges that were subject to a pardon by the governor or president;
  • Charges that resulted from identity theft; and
  • Some juvenile criminal charges.

A law that will take effect in 2025 will also allow courts to seal the records of certain convictions, including some misdemeanors and Class 5 or 6 felonies.

How Many Yearly Expungement Orders Are Granted?

During each year from 2017 to 2019, the Virginia State Police received about 4,000 expungement orders for criminal cases that did not result in convictions.

What is Automatic Expungement?

A law that will take effect in 2025 allows the Commonwealth of Virginia to expunge the records of certain criminal cases. To qualify for automatic expungement, a person must:

  • Be eligible for expungement under Virginia criminal law;
  • Have no other criminal convictions in Virginia; and
  • Have no arrests or criminal charges in the past three years.

A person who does not meet the second or third criterion may still be able to petition a court for expungement.

What is Virginia’s Expungement Process?

woman speaking with a criminal defense attorney in Virginia

Under current law, the expungement process consists of the following steps:

  • File a petition with the circuit court that heard the original criminal case.
  • Submit fingerprints.
  • Pay a filing fee.
  • Attend a hearing to argue why the court should order expungement.

If the court grants the petition, the charge will no longer appear in the person‘s criminal history. Anyone who wants to view records from that criminal case must get a court order.

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Legal representation by an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney offers essential benefits:

  • They can help you understand the charges against you and your options for defense strategies.
  • They can ensure that law enforcement and the court respect your constitutional rights.
  • They have inside knowledge of the criminal justice system.
  • They will tirelessly and zealously fight for you, whether you enter a plea agreement or take the case to trial.

The criminal defense lawyers at Randall & Bruch use their experiences as police officers and prosecutors to help them defend their clients in criminal cases. They work hard to uncover the truth. This means taking a close look at all the evidence, interviewing witnesses, and conducting their own investigations of the state’s allegations. They have the experience, agility, and passion to give real people real representation.


We are fully prepared and wholeheartedly committed to helping you tackle your unique case. Whether you need help with criminal defense, family law, personal injury, or real estate law, Randall & Bruch has you covered. Listen to what some of our satisfied clients have to say.

Chrystie S.: “Mr. Randall and his team provided excellent legal support during my case. Would give 10 stars if I could!”

Mel C.: “The best lawyer there is! Hire him now if you are in trouble with the law! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The staff were wonderful! Communication was phenomenal. I didn’t have to worry about everything. Thank you for taking care of me!

Jim H.: “I feel very fortunate to have chosen Randall & Bruch. What a great team! Kevin Frank represented me in traffic court and delivered great results. I would not hesitate to recommend Randall & Bruch.”

Consult Now with a Diligent Defense Attorney

We are here to help. Call 757-742-6115 or fill out our contact form to schedule an initial consultation. Our Virginia criminal defense lawyers have primary office locations in Virginia Beach, Southampton, Emporia, Brunswick, and Suffolk.

jack t randall

Written By Jack T. Randall


As lifelong resident of Western Tidewater, Jack Randall is a local attorney who wants the best results for his clients. He is an experienced and aggressive attorney with focus on family law, criminal and traffic law, as well as personal injury law cases.