Virginia Homicide Lawyer

Virginia homicide lawyer and murder attorneyHomicide is the killing of one human being by another human being. The term “murder” is often confused with “homicide.” While all murders are homicides, not all homicides are murders. Without question, a person’s untimely death is always tragic, but it is not always criminal. On this page, I provide a brief overview of homicide charges and the defenses your Virginia homicide attorney can assert on your behalf.  While murder is the most well-known of all the offenses discussed below, murder only accounts for a very small fraction of charged homicides. However, all homicide charges are extremely serious and they require a talented, aggressive, and knowledgeable Virginia homicide lawyer with the ability and expertise to assert a solid defense.

Homicide Charges

There six separate forms of homicide-related charges in Virginia. Below, I briefly discuss each of these charges and how a Fairfax homicide lawyer can help you. For a more in-depth discussion of homicide charges and their possible penalties, see our page on Virginia Homicide Laws.

Capital Murder

  • Capital murder is charged when a protected class of persons is killed intentionally or when a murder is committed under a particular set of circumstances. A comprehensive list of what constitutes capital murder can be found on our Virginia Homicide Laws page. (Link) But a few circumstances which can give rise to capital murder charges include when two or more people are killed at the same time; a person 14 years old or younger is killed by a person age 21 or older; a person is killed through an act of terrorism; or when a person murders a member of law enforcement.
  • Capital murder is a Class 1 felony punishable by a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty and a fine of up to $100,000.

First Degree Murder

  • First Degree murder is generally charged for intentional killings, killings by dangerous weapons, poison, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.
  • First degree murder is a Class 2 felony punishable 20 years to life in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Second Degree Murder

  • Second degree murder is charged when a person’s actions do not meet the standards of first degree murder. It can also be charged for unintentional or accidental killings during a the commission of a felony.
  • A person found guilty of second degree murder faces a punishment of 5 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Voluntary Manslaughter

  • Voluntary manslaughter is charged when a person kills another person in a rage or heat of passion and was not provided the time necessary to engage in mature consideration or premeditation. Manslaughter is commonly a reduced charge after the accused had initially been charged with first or second degree murder.
  • Voluntary manslaughter is a Class 5 felony which carries a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.

Involuntary Manslaughter

  • Involuntary Manslaughter is the unlawful, unintentional killing of a human being during the commission of an unlawful act (not amounting to a felony.) It can also be charged as the result of person’s negligent or reckless conduct which results in a killing.
  • Like voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter is a Class 5 felony carrying a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.

Felony Homicide

  • If a person is killed during a commission of a felony – even if the killing was accidental or unintentionally – the felony murder rule requires that the intent to kill did exist.
  • Felony homicide is considered to be a second-degree murder. Accordingly, the same penalty as second degree murder shall apply – 5 to 40 years in a state prison.

How Can a Virginia Homicide Lawyer Help?

Like all other criminal offenses, homicide-related offenses must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. But a good Virginia homicide lawyer will be able to create that doubt in the minds of the jury. Some of the possible defenses your Virginia homicide lawyer can assert on your behalf:


It is a total defense to homicide charges if the defendant acted with an honest and reasonable belief that committing a homicide was the only way to prevent them from being killed. This generally requires the defendant to prove that they were not the aggressor and that the force used under the circumstances was reasonable. This defense is very effective if the alleged victim was found to be carrying a deadly weapon.

Crime Prevention

Crime prevention can be used as a defense to homicide if they acted to prevent a crime from occurring and the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.


A mistake can very well be enough to show that the defendant lacked the required mental state to commit a murder. This generally occurs when a person mistakenly, but honestly believes that the force used was reasonable. While this defense may not absolve the person of all criminal responsibility, a qualified Virginia homicide lawyer may be able to lessen or mitigate a client’s potential punishment.

Call a Virginia Homicide Lawyer Now for a Free Consultation

Homicide laws and their potential defenses are complicated. Additionally, when homicide charges are in play, the stakes are extremely high. Thus, if you are facing homicide charges, you will need the assistance of an aggressive Virginia homicide lawyer who will vigorously fight to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. In these very difficult times, you are going to need the best Virginia criminal lawyer you can get.

The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provide full-service legal defense to people who have been charged with homicide-related crimes. We have the know-how, the motivation, and the skills to help ensure that you obtain the best possible outcome. Whether that outcome includes plea bargaining to a less severe charge or taking your case to trial, we will be relentless in our drive to help you. Contact our office today for a free consultation with a Virginia homicide attorney. 571-354-6164

fairfax criminal defense attorney





The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with affordable, professional, and aggressive criminal defense legal services. If you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or are under investigation, call us now for a Free Consultation.

Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.

Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney and DUI Lawyer Randall Sousa

Law Offices of Randall Sousa

3007 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031
Phone: 571-354-6164
Secondary phone: 571-328-6825


Your location:

virginia criminal lawyer

Law Offices of Randall Sousa
2920 District Avenue Suite 524 Fairfax, VA 22031

Phone: 571-354-6164