The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes multiple forms of murder in its criminal code. One of those forms is capital murder, and convictions based on capital murder charges can result in the death penalty. This post will discuss some of the factors that may prompt a prosecutor to seek capital murder charges against a person that they believe is guilty of a homicide crime.
A homicide that includes allegations of a "murder-for-hire" or a hit-man may be met with capital murder charges. Additionally, murders of certain people, such as law enforcement officials or children can be elevated from first degree murder to capital murder on the basis of those facts.
When a homicide case involves the murder of more than one person, a prosecutor may seek capital charges against the alleged offender for their alleged criminal actions. Also, murders committed contemporaneous with drug crimes or committed by individuals who are incarcerated in prison may be elevated to capital charges.
Capital murder charges are not only life-altering; they can be life ending. A person who is charged with capital murder must literally fight for their life to avoid the most serious penalties that could befall them if they are convicted.
Criminal defendants have the right to work with attorneys of their choosing to prepare their defense cases to capital murder charges. When selecting legal representation, it is imperative that individuals seek out lawyers who have experience handling capital cases. Not all criminal defense attorneys work in this unique area of the law, and therefore researching the right representation for a capital murder case is an important step criminal defendants should take early in their defense preparations.