Virginia Beach Murder Defense Attorney
Former Public Defender With Hundreds of Trial Cases
When you are facing murder charges, you will need an experienced and well-connected trial lawyer on your side. Our murder defense attorney, Matthew T. Morris, has years of experience defending clients against criminal charges.
He also brings unique experience as a former public defender. He has handled hundreds of trial cases throughout his career, and he also has strong relationships with current public defenders.
We Represent You With Compassion
Matthew understands the emotional and mental turmoil you are going through as a defendant. He will foster a comfortable and down-to-earth office environment as he works with you on your defense.
He will not impose any judgments or stigma on you. You can expect to work directly and openly with our experienced murder defense attorney as we strategize your defense against this very serious charge.
Types of Murder Charges
Murder is a homicide crime that occurs when a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm, such that the person later dies from the injuries. Virginia classifies murder offenses into three classes – capital murder, first degree murder and second degree murder.
Capital murder is the most serious type of homicide charge. It is murder that occurs on purpose with planning ahead of time and with evil intent.
Some examples of capital crimes include:
- Contract murder (murder for hire)
- Murder of a law enforcement officer
- Murder by a prisoner
- Multiple murders
- Murder related to a drug distribution offense
- Murder of a child younger than 14 years old by a person 21 years or older
Capital murder is a Class 1 felony punishable by the death penalty unless the defendant is under 18 years old, in which case they will face life imprisonment. Defendants may also incur a fine of up to $100,000. Our murder defense attorney can help you determine exactly what punishment you may be facing.
First Degree Murder
While capital murder offenses must be willful, deliberate and premeditated, even when the killing involves a different crime, first degree murder encompasses accidental as well as intentional killings. More specifically, first degree murder involves the following categories of murder:
- Willful, deliberate and premeditated killing (lacking the circumstances necessary to make it capital murder).
- Killing committed by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment or starvation.
- Killing done in the commission of, or in the attempt to commit, certain felonies (first degree felony murder).
Note that first degree felony murder refers to when a person is accidentally or intentionally killed during the commission of, or the attempt to commit, specific violent felonies, such as:
- Rape (including inanimate or animate object sexual penetration)
If an accidental killing occurs during the commission or the attempt to commit a less serious felony offense than the above, the defendant might receive a felony homicide charge (explained below) rather than felony murder.
A first degree murder charge is generally a Class 2 felony punishable by imprisonment for 20 years to life, as well as a possible fine of up to $100,000.
Second Degree Murder
All other murder offenses not defined as capital murder or first degree murder fit under second degree murder. Second degree murder will not involve any offense that included premeditation, but it will involve the element of malice.
Some examples of second degree murder are:
- Killings resulting from extreme recklessness.
- Killings committed in the heat of the moment with malice (but no premeditation).
- Killings committed with the intent to injure or kill the alleged victim.
- Killings committed when the offender had no regard for human life.
- Accidental killings that occurred during the commission of a felony or the attempt of a felony other than arson, abduction, burglary, robbery and others (felony homicide).
A crime of second degree murder will result in 5-40 years of imprisonment and a possible fine of up to $100,000. These charges can be difficult to understand. Our murder defense attorney can help explain them.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today
If you are facing criminal accusations of murder, contact an experienced murder defense attorney immediately for legal representation. Murder charges are some of the most serious criminal charges in Virginia, and the penalties could result in life in prison, if not worse.
Top Tier Law Group can take a look at the facts of your case and help you build a strong defense for mitigated or even dismissed charges. We will also put our legal relationships and prior public defender experience to use as we work on your case as your trusted murder defense attorney. Call us today at (757) 945-0207 or fill out the online contact form. We will respond quickly.