As a resident of Virginia recently charged with DUI-related crimes, the charges that you face could be categorized as misdemeanors or felonies. Which category your charges fall under will depend on several different factors, and both types of charges can have very different potential consequences if you are convicted.

FindLaw explains the difference between these two types of charges, first examining whether or not a DUI is inherently considered a misdemeanor. Since misdemeanors are the category for less severe crimes, people who have been charged with DUI-related felonies will often fight to secure a reduction to a misdemeanor instead.

A misdemeanor will usually be applied to first-time offenders as long as no aggravating circumstances were involved in your case. Aggravations can include things like driving with a minor in the car or injuring another person. If you’re convicted of a DUI infraction that’s considered a misdemeanor, you could face community service, fines, or jail time as opposed to prison time.

Felony charges, on the other hand, are usually faced by repeat offenders or people whose crashes involve aggravated circumstances, such as causing the death or harm of passengers in anyone’s vehicle, including their own. Other felony charges can include driving on suspended license and having over 3 DUI convictions within 10 years.

Most people will be facing misdemeanors when up against DUI charges in court. However, if you believe that you might be facing felony charges instead, you may wish to contact an attorney with experience in handling DUI-related cases for guidance and advice.