Murder Defense Frequently Asked Questions

If you, or someone you love, has been charged with murder, then you likely have a lot of questions that need answers. Here, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about murder defense in Virginia. Please browse our FAQs to start getting answers to your important questions.
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  • When is self-defense a murder defense in Virginia?

    You’ve been charged with murder. If you are convicted of murder, then you face the state’s most significant penalties, including a fine of up to $100,000, up to life in prison, and in some cases, the death penalty.

    But What If You Kill Someone in Self Defense?

    In Virginia, you have the right to use force against another person if you reasonably believe that the force is necessary to protect yourself from the imminent use of unlawful force by Self-Defense Letter Stampssomeone else. In some cases, you may also use force against someone who enters your home without permission.

    Let’s take a look at each element of self-defense separately:

    • First, you must have a reasonable belief. There is no simple definition of what makes your belief “reasonable.” Reasonable is subjective and based on what you thought was accurate at the time you acted. It doesn’t matter if what you thought was true later turned out not to be true as long as you had reason to believe that you were in imminent danger.
    • Next, your reasonable belief must be that you are in imminent danger. You may only use deadly force against someone else if you reasonably believe that you face an immediate threat of great bodily harm. In other words, the harm must be in the process of being committed or about to start. A threat of potential future bodily harm or death is not immediate and would not justify acting in self-defense.
    • Finally, you must use a reasonable amount of force in relation to the imminent danger. Your response should be proportionate to the danger that you face. For example, you may only use deadly force in self-defense if there is a present danger of serious bodily injury. Words alone do not justify the use of force.

    You have the burden of proving self-defense. However, you only need to raise reasonable doubt among the jury about the crime of which you are accused. You do not need to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Don’t Delay Contacting a Murder Defense Lawyer

    If you acted in self-defense, the court might find that the incident was a justifiable homicide or an excusable homicide, and you may save yourself from the severe consequences of a murder conviction. You have a lot at stake, and now is the time to contact a Virginia murder defense lawyer for a free consultation. Call us or reach out to us through this website today to learn more.


  • When can I be charged with felony murder and what penalties might I face in Virginia?

    Police Car Picking up a Felony Murder SuspectFelony murder is the killing of a person while in the commission of a felony crime in Virginia. It is also referred to as felony homicide. A person can be charged with this crime even if he did not intend to murder. If convicted, the punishment can be decades in prison.

    What Is Felony Murder?

    Under Virginia Code § 18.2-33, felony murder is the accidental killing of a person in the commission of certain felony crimes. This crime can be committed if the victim dies immediately or after the accused person has left the scene of the crime. It is often charged and punished as second-degree murder.

    However, if the felony is an especially serious one, felony murder can be charged as first-degree murder. These offenses include:

    • Rape
    • Arson
    • Robbery
    • Burglary
    • Abduction
    • Penetration by an inanimate or animate object

    In order to be convicted of felony murder, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes proving the following:

    • The act that caused the victim’s death was committed by a person involved in the felony crime.
    • The actions that caused the victim’s death were in furtherance of the underlying felony.
    • An action of the accused person was the cause of the victim’s death.

    What Are the Penalties for Felony Murder?

    The penalties for felony murder will depend on the type of felony the person is charged with committing and his prior criminal record. However, the punishment for felony homicide is between 5 and 40 years in prison if it is charged as second-degree murder.

    We Can Help You Defend Against Felony Murder Charges in Fairfax

    If you have been charged with felony murder, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to fight the very serious charges you face. Even if you are guilty of felony murder or the underlying felony, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    Our skilled and dedicated lawyers are here to mount the strongest defense possible to the charges you face. We will aggressively fight for the best possible outcome in your case and are not afraid to take your case to trial if this is in your best interests. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Fairfax office or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation.