Homicide charges are the most serious of all charges in Virginia. If you or your loved one is facing charges for the killing of another person, consider contacting an experienced defense attorney right away. Being arrested for murder or manslaughter in Lynchburg, Blackstone, or other parts of Virginia could result in life in prison. You do not want to take your chances when your freedom and future are on the line.

Contact a skilled murder defense attorney at E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, to formulate a strong defense and help you combat the charges. Dedicated to protecting the rights of clients, Gordon is prepared to fight tirelessly and aggressively on your behalf. Gordon has represented numerous clients in a variety of homicide cases in Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia.



Overview of Murder Charges in Virginia

Virginia recognizes several types of homicide charges that fall into two categories: murder and manslaughter. Below is the list of different homicide charges in Virginia:

  1. Capital murder. Under certain special circumstances, the willful and premeditated killing of another person is classified as capital murder. Some examples of the special circumstances include a deliberate killing of a person during or after a robbery/attempted robbery or rape/attempted rape, killing of a law enforcement officer, judge, or witness in a criminal case, and hiring someone else to kill a person, among other circumstances.

  2. First-degree murder. If there are no special circumstances that elevate the charges to capital murder, the defendant will be convicted of first-degree murder.

  3. Second-degree murder. If the killing of another person is not classified as capital or first-degree murder under Virginia law, the defendant will be convicted of second-degree murder.

  4. Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. These two types of homicide charges are considered Class 5 felonies in Virginia. As the names of the charges imply, the difference between the two charges is the existence or lack of intent to kill another person.

The difference between murder and manslaughter charges in Virginia is malice. If the killing was malicious, the defendant would face murder charges. However, murder is not as clear-cut as many people think. Individuals facing murder charges often have to deal with the stigma associated with the charge. Never forget that you are innocent until proven guilty.

Penalties for Murder Charges in Virginia

Penalties for homicide charges depend on the type of the conviction, the circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s prior convictions, and many other factors. For example, capital murder is punishable by death unless the convicted individual is under 18 years old. Individuals convicted of first-degree murder face from 20 years to life in prison, while those convicted of second-degree murder can be sentenced to up 40 years in prison.

In addition to a prison sentence, people facing murder charges may also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $100,000. Manslaughter charges entail less severe punishment.

Possible Defenses to Murder Charges

Depending on the facts of the case, a criminal defense attorney may mount any of the following defense strategies to fight or reduce murder charges in Virginia:

  • Mistaken identity. Individuals facing murder or manslaughter charges may argue that law enforcement arrested the wrong person.

  • Accidental killing. If the defendant did not have the intent to kill another person, they could argue that the killing was accidental.

  • Self-defense. The defendant may also claim that the killing was justified because they were trying to defend themselves with the use of reasonable force.

  • Defense of property or another person in imminent danger. Individuals facing murder charges may argue that they were trying to defend their property or another person who was in imminent danger.


If you are facing murder charges in Virginia, you may feel as if everyone has turned against you. This is not true. At E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, a murder defense attorney in Lynchburg & Blackstone, Virginia, is prepared to fight relentlessly on your behalf and will be there for you every step of the way. Gordon also serves clients in Bedford, Charlotte, Amherst, Campbell, Nottoway, and Prince Edward counties.