The term “homicide” typically conjures up images of hatred, malice, and violent aggression. The word itself is very simply defined as the killing of one person by another. It seems simple enough, but there can be many facets involved in a homicide and many situations in which homicides occur. There are times when homicide is accidental, unintentional, or even justified as in the case of self-defense, but the cases which are often publicly reported are those involving intentional acts, whether premeditated or committed in the heat of passion, and those caused by reckless or negligent actions. To understand how Virginia law applies to the facts of your Prince William case, you need to contact a Prince William County homicide lawyer.
Prince William County Homicide Lawyers Can Help
Many states incorporate Castle Laws or “Stand Your Ground” clauses which provide for the use of deadly force in self-defense and attacks on/against one’s private property. Virginia has established such exceptions for cases of self-defense; however, the state proves to be much less lenient than other states in what it considers to be justifiable homicide. State law does permit, however, law enforcement officials or even civilians to utilize deadly force against perpetrators who pose a threat to human life in the commission of a crime. Finding a Prince William homicide lawyer who knows how to prove such an act is in self-defense is paramount to avoiding a homicide conviction.
Most often, cases of homicide are not justifiable, however, and are severely punished with hefty fines and long-term or life-term incarceration or even the death penalty. Classifications of felony murder within the state of Virginia include:
- Capital murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Murder of the first degree
- Murder of the second degree
- Negligent manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter
If you are facing criminal charges for homicide, you need an attorney who is experienced in providing successful defense for those accused of various forms of murder. By contacting a Prince William County homicide lawyer, you can schedule a free case evaluation and find out more about state law as it pertains to homicide and the associated penalties.
Virginia Criminal Code on Homicide
Leading off the list of criminal offenses in Title 18.2 of the Virginia Criminal Code is homicide. Considered a “crime against the person,” homicide is addressed in great detail, laying out specific aspects which make one form of murder more sinister and therefore more severely punished than another form of murder.
The code begins, under Section 18.2-30, by establishing capital murder, murder of the first and second degrees, and both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as felonies. In the following sections of the code, these different types of murder offenses are defined and the penalties of each are specified.
Because each murder case is so different, it can be hard to know just what consequences one will face in a particular case. Therefore, it is beneficial to obtain legal counsel that is knowledgeable in state homicide laws and penalties. By contacting an attorney in the field of criminal defense, the defendant will be best prepared to face determined prosecutors in court and throughout the trial.
Considered by many to be the most heinous of criminal offenses, felony murder is severely punished by state law. Prosecutors unflinchingly seek the maximum penalties allowed by law in such cases, and therefore hiring skilled representation is necessary for the best possible defense.
The most serious felony homicide offense is that which is defined as capital murder. A conviction for capital murder is a Class 1 felony and carries with it the punishment of a fine of up to $100,000 and either life in prison or the death penalty. If the convicted is a minor under the age of 18 or is proven to suffer from mental retardation, the death penalty is not applicable, and the convicted will face life imprisonment. Defined under Section 18.2-31 of the criminal code, this “willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing” may include:
- Murder during a robbery or attempted robbery
- Murder during a rape, attempted rape, forcible sodomy, etc.
- Murder during a hostage situation or kidnapping for ransom
- Murder during an act of terrorism
- Murder during an act of organized crime
- Murder by means of a “contract killer”
- Murder during incarceration
- Murder of more than one person in a single offense
- Murder of more than person within three years
- Murder of a child or adolescent under the age of 15 (if committed by someone 21 or older)
- Murder of a pregnant woman
- Murder of a witness in a criminal case
- Murder of a judge, law enforcement officer, or fire marshal
Manassas Criminal Defense Representation for Homicide
The Virginia State Police reported nearly 300 cases of murder in the Commonwealth in the year 2011, including both murder and negligent manslaughter. That is nearly one death every day as the result of criminal homicide. If you are facing charges for murder, it is important that you quickly secure the legal counsel of a Prince William County homicide lawyer.