A teenager in Chesterfield, Virginia was recently arrested for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a dog. The dog's owner called the police after hearing a commotion in his backyard. The legal term for this is a crime against nature, which is a class 6 felony in the commonwealth of Virginia. All states assign different designations to their criminal statutes, which allows them to distinguish between crimes based on their severity. Most states use smaller numbers to indicate more serious crimes, such as those punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In Virginia, a class 6 felony is punishable by a term of imprisonment between one and five years. However, at the discretion of the jury or the judge trying the case in the place of the jury, a defendant convicted of a class 6 felony could serve less than 12 months in jail, pay a fine of up to $2,500, or some combination of the two. To obtain the special reduced sentence, a defendant would likely have to show some sort of mitigating circumstances for the crime, or show that the crime was a one-time mistake and not part of a pattern of criminal conduct.
Defendants with no prior records or those who have a reasonable, valid explanation for their behavior are more likely to successfully obtain a lower sentence, as are those who reach a plea bargain with the local prosecutor's office instead of going to trial. Additionally, a defendant imprisoned for a class 6 felony could be released from jail before the sentence is over if he or she exhibits good behavior and is granted release by the parole board.
In Virginia, a class 6 felony is the least serious grade of felony crimes. Examples of a class 6 felony include crime against nature, donating or attempting to donate blood infected with HIV, reckless endangerment, and violation of a court order.