Attempted murder is a serious felony crime in Virginia. The penalties you face if convicted can be very harsh and are similar to the punishments if you were found guilty of murder. You cannot afford to face these charges in Fairfax or Northern Virginia without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Elements of Attempted Murder
Attempted murder is an unsuccessful attempt to kill someone. This charge requires proof of the following elements:
- The person charged took a direct action toward killing the victim.
- The suspect’s actions were intended to murder the victim.
What Constitutes a Direct Action?
Taking a direct action toward murdering someone requires more than just preparing to commit a murder. Planning a crime can involve thinking about a plan, talking about it, or planning it in other ways, which, depending on the circumstances, may be considered a conspiracy if it involves another individual. To be convicted of attempted murder, a person must do take some actions associated with committing the crime of murder.
There are many ways that an individual can take a direct action in a plan to kill someone. Some actions that may constitute a direct action include:
- Stalking, tracking, or ambushing the victim with the hope that it will lead to an opportunity to murder him.
- Luring the victim to a specific location where he can be murdered.
- Breaking into the victim’s home or other location where it is believed that he will be.
- Collecting the items needed for the murder.
- Paying someone to murder the victim or to implement another key element of the crime.
- Using a weapon, such as a gun or knife, against a victim and inflicting serious injuries or shooting the gun at his chest or head, which is more likely to result in his death.
What Is the Intent to Kill?
It must also be proven that the person specifically intended to commit the crime of attempted murder. To establish this, the prosecutor must show the following:
- Intent to act. The person being charged must have had the intent to take the direct action.
- Intent to kill. The suspect must have the intent to kill the intended victim. Taking actions to maim or frighten him are not sufficient. Whether intent to kill can be proven will depend on the circumstances of the particular crime.
Penalties for Attempted Murder in Virginia
In Virginia, the penalties for an attempted felony are based on the punishment for the felony that the person attempted to commit. This is also true for attempted murder. If convicted, you may face these punishments:
- Capital murder. Capital murder is the willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of a person under certain conditions, such as a murder for hire or if the murder was committed during a kidnapping, rape, or robbery. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-25, attempted capital murder is a Class 2 felony. If convicted, you may be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Attempted murder. Attempted first-degree or second-degree murder is a Class 4 felony under Virginia Code § 18.2-26. The punishment can include between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $100,000.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Immediately If You Are Charged With Attempted Murder
Have you been charged with attempted murder or another violent crime in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? It is crucial that you retain an experienced murder defense attorney as soon as possible to help you mount a strong defense to the charges you face. You may have strong defenses depending on the facts of your case, and our experienced attorneys can help you identify and raise those defenses.
Call our Fairfax office to schedule a free consultation to learn of our decades of experience representing clients facing these and other charges and how we can help you build a strong defense to the charges you face.