Norfolk, VA Homicide Defense Lawyers
Our law firm skillfully handles complex murder cases
Have you been charged with homicide or murder in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, or another city in Virginia? If you are charged and convicted, the consequences can be serious, including life in prison in some cases.
With so much at stake, you need to take action right away to protect your legal rights. You need a Virginia criminal defense law firm that knows exactly what to do. You need Welch & Wright, PLLC on your side.
Our skilled Norfolk, VA criminal defense attorneys know the state and federal laws that apply to homicide charges. As a result, we thoroughly understand how the legal system actually works in Virginia.
What is homicide?
Homicide is a legal term used to describe the act of one person killing another person. Homicide might always seem like a criminal offense to most people. However, homicide is not always a crime. For example, if someone kills another person in self-defense, that is legally considered homicide in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but it is not a crime.
Even so, there’s a lot of confusion around homicide since many of Virginia’s criminal laws involving crimes against another person are collectively known as homicide in Virginia Code 18.2, Chapter 4, Article 1.
What is murder?
From a legal standpoint in Virginia, murder is considered a type of homicide in which one person intentionally causes the death of another person without any legal justification. In Virginia, there are several different types of murders:
- First-degree murder – This form of murder involves someone intentionally killing another person and in which three, specific elements exist – intent, premeditation, and malice. In general, someone can only be charged with first-degree murder if they deliberately planned to kill someone in advance.
- Second-degree murder – This form of murder involves someone intentionally killing another person but there is no premeditation involved. In other words, someone did not plan ahead of time to kill someone but did so in the moment knowing that their actions would result in someone else’s death. This is usually considered a crime of passion that happens when someone is angry or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Aggravated murder – Aggravated murder is similar to first-degree murder but involves certain, specific situations, including kidnapping another person and killing them, killing another person for money, killing another person while committing a robbery and other serious criminal offenses, including certain sex crimes.
Virginia homicide charges
Many criminal laws in Virginia that apply to homicide can be found in Virginia Code 18.2, Chapter 4, Article 1. Within this area of law, there are many specific criminal charges, including:
- Penalties for murder conviction – Virginia Code 18.2-30
- Legal definition of aggravated murder – Virginia Code 18.2-31
- Differences between first-degree murder and second-degree murder explained – Virginia Code 18.2-32
- Murder of a pregnant woman – Virginia Code 18.2-32.1
- Killing a fetus – Virginia Code 18.2-32.2
Penalties for homicide conviction in Virginia
Penalties vary depending on the circumstances of each case, including the nature of the murder and whether the person convicted of homicide was previously convicted of another crime. But in general, such penalties include:
- 5 to 40 years in prison (including mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years) for a second-degree murder conviction.
- Mandatory minimum 20-year prison sentence to life in prison, plus a fine of up to $100,000, for a first-degree murder conviction.
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole for an aggravated murder conviction.
In addition, certain capital offenses covered by federal laws instead of state laws may be punishable by death. The Commonwealth of Virginia outlawed the death penalty in 2021. However, capital punishment is still legal at the federal level and sometimes may be imposed by the federal government in cases involving treason, espionage, or attempted murder of a witness in a legal case.
Possible legal defenses for homicide
There are many possible legal defenses for homicide or murder in Virginia, including your defense attorney proving:
- Someone else committed the murder
- Other person’s death was an accident and therefore manslaughter
- Person accused of first-degree murder did not intend to kill someone
- Lack of evidence, insufficient evidence against the person charged with murder or homicide
- Arresting police officer violated the person’s rights while arresting them for murder or homicide
These are just a few examples of possible legal defenses for individuals charged with murder or homicide in Virginia. Every case is different. That’s why it’s critical that anyone charged with such a serious crime meets with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer right away.
You have rights. We can fight for them
This might be your only opportunity for justice. Make sure you take action if you have been charged with murder or homicide in Virginia. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation. One of our experienced Norfolk, Virginia criminal defense lawyers can review the details of your case, explain your options, and get right to work developing a legal strategy designed to succeed.