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Prosecutors in Virginia are notorious for aggressively pursuing those accused of violent crimes, including first-degree murder, manslaughter charges, criminally negligent homicide, and more. A conviction could mean serious repercussions, including years in prison, lifetime imprisonment, or even the death penalty. Even if your charges are lowered to manslaughter, you could still be looking at thousands of dollars in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

You can fight homicide charges with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help by investigating the charges to uncover details that prove your innocence. Your criminal defense lawyer can also ensure your rights are protected, and that law enforcement does not use evidence gained by unlawful search and seizure. Additionally, if you receive unfavorable results due to infringement of your constitutional rights or if you have uncovered new evidence, your attorney can help you seek an appeal.

When you are facing any homicide charges, you should consult with a skilled legal team right away. At Ashwell & Ashwell, we understand how serious this situation is and promise to use all of our experience and skills to get you the most favorable results possible. Call our law offices today at 540-384-1277 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how our legal services can help.

What Are the Different Types of Homicide Charges Under Virginia Law?

One reason fighting homicide charges is so difficult in Virginia is because of the many forms these charges can take. For example, you may be charged as an accomplice, accused of aggravated murder, or even aggravated criminally negligent homicide. Some other common homicide charges include capital murder, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is one of the most severe criminal charges a person can face. It is defined as killing a minor under 14 years old, killing through terrorist acts, killing a judge, police officer, or crime witness, or killing while committing a felony such as robbery, rape, or drug trafficking. A capital murder conviction typically results in the death penalty in Virginia.

First Degree Murder

A first-degree murder charge involves intentionally killing someone through willful, deliberate, and premeditated acts. Murder that occurs during rape, robbery, or abduction may be considered murder in the first degree.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is defined under Virginia law as any murder other than those that are considered capital or first-degree murders. This may include accidental killings or causing someone’s death while engaging in criminal activities.


Manslaughter is the least serious homicide charge but may still lead to devastating consequences. These charges are divided into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, as follows:

  • Voluntary manslaughter – Voluntary manslaughter may occur in the heat of passion when someone is reasonably provoked.
  • Involuntary manslaughter – These homicide charges occur if someone engages in criminal negligence or reckless behavior that results in someone else’s death, such as driving under the influence.

What Are the Consequences of a Murder Conviction in Virginia?

Some of the penalties that come with a conviction in a Virginia homicide case include:

  • Death penalty for capital murder conviction
  • At least 20 years in prison for first-degree murder, possible lifetime imprisonment
  • Between five and 40 years in prison for second-degree murder
  • A maximum of 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, more if aggravating factors are present

Beyond the legal repercussions of a homicide conviction, you may also have trouble getting a job or keeping custody of your children. Having a conviction on your criminal record can devastate your social life and impair your family relationships. You may also lose your driver’s and professional licenses. Contact our legal team immediately for help fighting your charges and getting a lower sentence.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me Fight My Homicide Charges?

Hiring the right lawyer is crucial to prevent the worst sentencing in your homicide case. A homicide defense lawyer can help get your charges lowered from a Class B felony to a Class D felony or even a Class E felony, depending on the circumstances of your case. Your criminal lawyer should be experienced with violent crime laws in Virginia to help you during the investigation, prepare a strong defense, and appeal an unsatisfactory outcome.


Lawyers play an essential role in helping individuals through the investigation process. Your homicide lawyer can advise you on how to interact with police officers to maintain a good character report and avoid accidental self-incrimination. Your attorney can also investigate the alleged crime to uncover evidence that backs up your defense.


Some defenses that you can use with the help of a skilled defense lawyer include:

  • Wrong person, meaning the police arrested you by mistake
  • Self-defense or acting in defense of another person
  • Insanity
  • Acting under duress of threat


Finally, a knowledgeable murder defense attorney can help you appeal your sentencing if there were mistakes made during your trial or if you uncover new evidence that was not previously available. Virginia’s appeals system is notoriously complex, so please reach out to an appeals lawyer like those at our law firm right away to fight your erroneous murder conviction.

Should You Hire Our Homicide Attorneys?

If you or a family member is facing murder charges, including capital murder, vehicular manslaughter, or negligent homicide, you need immediate help to fight these charges. Virginia’s legal system has a heavy bias against those accused of violent charges, making it difficult to get fair treatment. Our attorneys will stand by your side to protect your rights and fight valiantly for a favorable outcome in your case.

Our legal team is led by attorneys with vast experience, including years as a judge and prosecutor. We promise to use that knowledge and skill to fight aggressively for your interests in your homicide case. Call our law office today at 540-386-1277 to schedule a free consultation with our compassionate, talented legal team.


Contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC Offices Today!

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    Contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC Offices Today!

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