Legal Question in Criminal Law in Virginia

For the state of Virginia, what does a "Direct Indictment" actually mean? And could you please explain the difference between the seriousness of a Class 5 felony and a "Class U" felony.

Thank you,

Cindy Lander

Asked on 8/24/11, 10:32 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Erin Ranney Erin L. T. Ranney, PLLC

A Direct Indictment is a criminal charge issued by the grand jury. It is like a warrant - only it is obtained by the Commonwealth's Attorney presenting information to the grand jury, and the grand jury determines if there is probable cause instead of the magistrate. There is no preliminary hearing - only a Circuit Court trial. A Class 5 felony is the second to lowest felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in DOC. A Class "U" felony means that it is an unclassed felony. What that means is that the punishment is not set by the class, but rather the maximum punishment is written into the offense statute. An example is Grand Larceny:

The definition of the offense and the punishment are both in the Code section.

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Answered on 8/24/11, 10:37 am

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