Fairfax Homicide Attorney
If you have been charged with homicide or manslaughter in Fairfax County, you face very serious criminal charges. Prosecutors will aggressively pursue the most severe penalties possible in cases of homicide, including long-term or life-term imprisonment or even the death penalty. To combat a strenuous prosecution, it is important that you have a strong, expert defense at the hands of a Fairfax homicide lawyer.
By definition, homicide is a killing of one human being by another. When stated so plainly, the term sounds very “cut-and-dried.” The circumstances surrounding a homicide can vary so greatly, however, that no two cases are quite the same. There are instances in which a killing is premeditated and malicious or heinous in nature. There are cases in which an eruption of rage is too excessive and leads to the death of another. There are also instances, though, in which a killing is accidental or possibly even justified, as in cases of self-defense.
Many states have allowances for deadly force in preserving one’s own life, such as Castle Law, Defense of Habitation Law, or Stand-Your-Ground Law. These doctrines have been established to protect one against prosecution in cases of self-defense vary from state to state.
More often than not, unfortunately, homicide is, in fact, a criminal act. There are cases of voluntary manslaughter in which a life is taken by premeditated means, but there are also cases in which negligent or reckless actions lead to the death of another. Deaths such as these are termed as negligent manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, and they, too, are considered to be criminal activity.
The Code of Virginia covers crimes against the person, also known as homicide, in Title 18.2, Chapter 4. Section 18.2-30, discusses types of murder considered to be felonies, including:
- Capital murder
- Murder of the first degree
- Murder of the second degree
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter
Although each classification of homicide is considered a different class, they each carry with them penalties which are quite severe. An intense prosecution will seek to maximize the charges and all applicable penalties. In order to limit the consequences you face, you need an experienced Fairfax homicide attorney to fight for you.
Fairfax Homicide Lawyers Handle Capital Murder Cases
Under the code Section 18.2-31, capital murder is defined in detail and is listed as a Class 1 felony which is punishable by life imprisonment or death and a maximum fine of $100,000. For cases in which the defendant is a minor or is deemed mentally retarded, the death penalty cannot be applied, but the defendant could still face life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, if convicted.
There are fifteen types of capital murder discussed in this section, and a common thread that can be seen in them all is the fact that every one of them involves “the willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing” of another individual.
Some of the circumstances surrounding a homicide which lead to classification as capital murder are:
- Kidnapping or abduction involving a ransom or intent to defile the victim
- Contract killing or murder-for-hire
- Robbery or attempted robbery
- Rape or sodomy or the attempt of such an act
- Murder of a law-enforcement officer, fire marshal, or judge
- Killing of a subpoenaed witness
- Terrorism or attempted act of terrorism
- Murder of a pregnant woman with the intent to terminate the pregnancy
- Killing more than one person within a three-year period
- Murder of more than one person within a single criminal act
Whether the intent was to kill or a criminal act escalated to a deadly situation, if you have taken the life of another individual in a circumstance listed above, or by means of another form of capital murder, you face very serious charges as a Class 1 felon. Contact a Fairfax homicide attorney today.
First and Second Degree Murder
First degree murder is listed as a Class 2 felony, punishable by imprisonment for life or a minimum term of twenty years and a maximum fine of $100,000. The definition of first degree murder, as stated in Section 18.2-32, is:
“Murder, other than capital murder, by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary or abduction, except as provided in Section 18.2-31, is murder of the first degree.”
Also discussed in this section is second degree murder which is considered to be all other murders that do not fall under the classification of capital or first degree murders. For one found guilty of second degree murder, he or she will face imprisonment for no less than five years, up to a forty year term.
How a Fairfax Homicide Lawyer Can Help
The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides recent crime statistics in its “Crime in the United States 2012,” a preliminary uniform crime report with facts from January through June. The data shows a decrease of 1.7 percent in reported cases of murder, on a national level. In the state of Virginia, the number of homicides has been steadily decreasing since 2007. But, with approximately 300 cases of homicide in 2011, it is evident that some are still facing serious charges for taking the life of another person. If you are facing a murder conviction, it is important that you have a skilled homicide lawyer in Fairfax County on your side. Contact a Fairfax homicide attorney today for a free consultation.