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Murder Defense Attorney in Abingdon & Tazewell, Virginia

Murder is one of the most serious criminal charges a person can face. A conviction for murder carries severe and life-altering penalties, including life behind bars. If you are under investigation or have been arrested on a murder charge, it’s critical that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.  

Murder charges can ruin your life, especially if you don’t know how to navigate the criminal justice legal system. Our murder defense attorney can help you build a strong defense and protect your rights. The Letsen Law Firm has offices in Abingdon and Tazewell, Virginia. Contact us today to schedule a case consultation and start strategizing. We also serve clients throughout Russell County and the Virginia side of Bristol City.  

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Murder Charges in Virginia 

Virginia recognizes several types of murder charges depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. As a rule of thumb, killings planned out in advance are punished more severely compared to killings in which there was no malicious intent. Murder charges in Virginia can be broken down into three categories: 

Capital Murder 

Capital murder is often considered the most serious crime in Virginia. It can be defined as a killing of a person that is willful and premeditated and involves one or more of the following circumstances:  

  • murdering someone for hire 

  • committing multiple murders in a single act or within three years 

  • killing while committing an act of terrorism 

  • killing a child under the age of 14 

  • killing a woman known to be pregnant 

  • killing a law enforcement officer or firefighter performing their job duties 

  • killing a witness to prevent them from providing testimony in a criminal case  

  • killing someone while committing rape, robbery, or manufacture/sale/delivery of Schedule I or II drugs 

Typically, people convicted of capital murder face a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Don’t risk your future. Team up with a skilled attorney to maximize your chances of a fair outcome. 

First-Degree Murder 

First-degree murder is defined as deliberate, premeditated, and willful murder that does not meet the criteria to be considered “capital murder.” You can be charged with first-degree murder if any of the following is true: 

  • You committed the killing of another person by specific means (starvation, poison, imprisonment, etc.). 

  • You committed the killing of another person while committing or attempting to commit a specific felony such as rape, robbery, burglary, arson, abduction, object sexual penetration, or forcible sodomy unless the offense is classified as capital murder. 

  • The killing of another person was premeditated (however, there is no requirement to prove that the murder was planned in advance, as premeditation can occur seconds before the killing). 

If the crime is classified as first-degree murder, you will want to work with an experienced attorney to avoid or minimize the potentially harsh penalties associated with the conviction.  

Second-Degree Murder 

Any murder that does not meet the criteria of capital murder and first-degree murder is considered second-degree murder under Virginia law.  

Generally speaking, the killing of another person is considered second-degree murder when it’s committed without premeditation, but with malice. From a legal perspective, you have malice when there is a conscious intent to do harm.  

Regardless of what murder charges you are facing, you might want to contact a murder defense attorney to secure skilled representation and get the best chance to prove your innocence. 

Possible Penalties for a Murder Conviction 

A murder conviction can result in hefty penalties, with capital murder carrying the harshest punishment. In the most extreme cases, a conviction can even lead to a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

A conviction for murder can wreck your life. In addition to years (or even life) in prison, you can face hefty fines and other life-altering consequences. Upon your release from prison, you can have difficulties finding a job and housing because of your criminal history. Your everyday life and relationships can also be impacted when people find out about your murder conviction.  

Possible Defenses to Murder Charges 

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, there may be several possible defenses you can use to fight murder charges. Some possible defenses often used in murder cases include: 

  • Self-defense or defense of others. If the killing of another person was the result of self-defense or defense of others, you cannot be convicted of murder. However, when claiming self-defense, you must prove that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances.  

  • Insanity defense. When a person who commits murder lacks the necessary state of mind at the time of the crime, they may not be convicted of murder. In this case, the defendant’s legal counsel can use the “insanity defense” if there is evidence to prove that the defendant did not understand the nature of their act and was not able to distinguish between right and wrong.  

  • Mistaken identity. If you can prove that you were mistakenly identified as the perpetrator by law enforcement, you can avoid a conviction. Proving mistaken identity usually means establishing that you have an alibi (being elsewhere at the time the crime was committed).  

  • Accidental killing or lack of intent. If you did not have the malicious intent to kill another person, you cannot be convicted of murder. However, proving that the killing was accidental and that you did not have malicious intent can be tricky.  

  • Constitutional violations. If your constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement when obtaining evidence or arresting you, you could potentially use it as your defense strategy to avoid a conviction or reduce the charges.  

A criminal defense attorney will be able to identify the most appropriate strategy for your case after reviewing the details of your situation. 

Murder Defense Attorney in Abingdon & Tazewell, Virginia

If you are under investigation or have been arrested for the killing of another person, do not hesitate to hire an experienced attorney. At the Letsen Law Firm, our murder defense attorney in Abingdon and Tazewell, Virginia, understands the stress and pain you endure when facing these serious charges with potentially life-altering consequences. Get in touch today to request a consultation and discuss your case.