Eastern District of Virginia: Misdemeanors and Petty Offenses

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by | October 20, 2021

United States District Court For the Easter District of Virginia (EDVA)

Why is my misdemeanor case in Federal Court?

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of the most active Federal Courts in the country for misdemeanors. The reason for this is that Northern Virginia has a high amount of federal government facilities, and federally owned land. Examples of locations subject to Federal jurisdiction are:

Alleged crimes or offenses in any of these areas are likely to be prosecuted in Federal Court. This includes the most serious crimes, but it also includes things like speeding, reckless driving, DUI, Petit Larceny, and other misdemeanors.

Some offenses are more common than others. Due to their location, (and the slightly confusing roadways in the area) Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall and the Pentagon see a lot of DUIs. Typically, this happens as a result of a simple wrong turn, that end up with you at a gate asking to turn around, which leads to a DUI investigation. Ft. Belvoir and Quantico see federal charges for just about anything that might otherwise be in state court, including larceny from the PX.

When a crime occurs on federal property federal charges can result either directly under an applicable federal law, or under a state statute pursuant to the Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 13.  The Assimilative Crimes Act states that “state law applicable to conduct occurring on lands reserved or acquired by the federal government as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 7(3), when the act or omission is not made punishable by an enactment of Congress.”   So, either you will be charged with a specifically federal offense, or you will be charged under a blanked federal law that incorporates state law.

A person who is caught drinking and driving on the GW Parkway could be charged either under the federal DUI law, 32 CFR § 234.17, or, thanks to the Assimilative Crimes Act, under Virginia’s DUI law, Va. Code 18.266. In other respects, federal law and procedures apply, including penalties. That said, the Federal Judges are aware of state sentencing practices, and try to keep some parity.

What is the penalty for federal misdemeanors?

Federal misdemeanors are categorized into three classes depending upon the potential sentence they carry:

  • Class A misdemeanors, like Virginia state Class 1 misdemeanors, are subject to up to a year in jail.
  • Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months imprisonment
  • Class C misdemeanors are punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment

If imprisonment of five days or less its authorized, the offense qualifies as an infraction. 

Hire a Lawyer For Your Federal Criminal Case in the Eastern District of Virginia

Being charged in Federal Court is intimidating. It is literally the United States v. you. Our attorneys can navigate the process, which can be more strict than in state court, and work to get the best resolution for your case, based on the particular facts and what your biggest concerns are.

If you are charged with a federal misdemeanor our Client-Focused Criminal Defense Team can help.  These cases are prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys and are on a faster timeline than state courts. If you’re charged with a federal misdemeanor, it is important that you speak to an attorney right away.  If you have been charged with a crime in EDVA, call our office for a free consultation.