Frequently Asked Questions About Violent Crimes

If you have been charged with a violent crime in Fairfax, you most likely have many questions about the charges you face, possible penalties, and defenses that can help. Here, our experienced criminal defense attorneys provide answers to commonly asked questions in these cases.

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  • I’ve been charged with shooting in the attempt to commit a felony. What penalties might I face if I’m convicted?

    In Virginia, shooting, stabbing, cutting, or otherwise wounding another person in the commission or attempted commission of a felony is a very serious felony offense with harsh penalties that can include a prison sentence and a fine. These punishments would be in addition to those for the underlying felony.

    Shooting While Committing a Felony Can Be Charged for the Use of Many Types of Weapons

    Man Shooting a Firearm While Committing a Felony Crime

    Virginia Code § 18.2-53 makes it a crime to unlawfully shoot, stab, cut, or wound another person while committing or attempting to commit a felony. Although the title of this code section refers to shooting, the statute makes it a crime to use a variety of weapons. You may be charged with this offense if you do any of the following to another person while committing or attempting a felony:

    • Shoot
       
    • Stab
       
    • Cut
       
    • Wound

    What Are the Penalties for Shooting While Committing a Felony?

    Shooting, stabbing, cutting, or wounding while committing or attempting to commit a felony is a Class 6 felony. This crime is a separate offense from the underlying felony. If you are convicted of both crimes, you will face two separate sentences. The sentence you may face for this offense can include:

    • Prison sentence of one year to up to five years, or
       
    • Jail sentence of up to 12 months, or
       
    • Fine of up to $2,500.

    You will also have a permanent criminal record that includes a felony conviction. This can make it much more difficult for you to get a job, find housing, and more throughout your life.

    If you have been charged with shooting while committing a felony or another crime in Virginia, it is essential to start building your defense right away. To mount an effective defense, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. To find out how our legal team can help, call our Fairfax office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • Is it a crime to discharge a firearm in a home or other building in Virginia?

    Hand on a Hun in Residential HousingDischarging a firearm in a home or other building is a felony offense in Virginia and can result in serious punishments upon conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you build a strong defense that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious crime, depending on the facts of your case.

    What Is a Firearm?

    Under Virginia Code § 18.2-282, a firearm is any weapon that will, is designed to, or can readily be converted to expel a single or multiple projectiles by an explosion of combustible material. Ammunition is defined as a cartridge, pellet, ball, missile, or a projectile adapted to be used as a firearm.

    What Is the Crime of Discharging a Firearm in a Building?

    It is unlawful under Virginia Code § 18.2-279 for an individual to discharge a firearm within a building or dwelling house that is occupied by one or more persons in a manner as to endanger their lives. The circumstances surrounding the discharge of the weapon will determine whether a person is charged with a Class 4 or Class 6 felony. Here are the penalties for each:

    • Class 4 felony. If the firing of the weapon was malicious and there was an intent to cause harm, a person can be charged with a Class 4 felony. The possible punishment includes a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
       
    • Class 6 felony. If the discharge of the firearm is unlawful but not committed with malice, the offense is a Class 6 felony. If convicted, a person can be sentenced to one to five years in prison. However, the judge or jury has the discretion to reduce the penalties to up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

    If someone dies due to the discharge of the firearm, the charges and penalties are more serious. They include:

    • Involuntary manslaughter. If the killing was unlawful but without malice it is treated as involuntary manslaughter. A person can be sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison. However, the penalty can be reduced to up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine in the judge’s or jury’s discretion.
       
    • Second-degree murder. If the shooting was done maliciously and someone dies because of the discharge of the firearm in the building or home, the person can be charged with second-degree murder. The sentence can include 5 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
       
    • First-degree murder. If the homicide is willful, deliberate, and premeditated, the offense can be charged as first-degree murder. If convicted, a person would be sentenced to up to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

    Finally, Virginia Code § 18.2-279 makes it a class 4 felony to willfully discharge a firearm within or to shoot at any school building, whether or not it is occupied.

    The dedicated and skilled criminal defense attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC understand the long-term consequences a criminal conviction can have on a person’s life and are committed to mounting a strong defense to the charges our clients face so that they can achieve the best possible outcome. To learn how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • 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.