A homicide charge of any level is very serious in Virginia. All homicide, from capital murder to involuntary manslaughter, are felonies and punishable with significant imprisonment. If you are accused of homicide you should speak to an experienced attorney like John Boneta. John will review your case, determine what defenses can be raised, and advise you if you are considering a plea bargain. When you are facing a potential loss of liberty, John is experienced, trustworthy, and will tirelessly advocate for your freedom.
Some general defenses and their elements are listed below. Depending on what you are charged with and the facts of your case, defense options might vary.
Reasonable Doubt: The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of a homicide charge. Reasonable doubt is a high standard of proof. Your defense attorney can use this high standard to cast doubt on at least one element of the charge. If the jury agrees that there is reason to doubt your guilt, then you cannot be convicted.
Self-Defense: Self-defense is an affirmative defense meaning that you admit to killing but you only did so to protect yourself from imminent danger. Imminent danger in this case is an active threat of serious bodily harm that you can reasonably protect yourself from under the circumstances. You don’t have to necessarily entirely prove that your actions were done in self-defense, you only have to persuade the jury enough that there is reasonable doubt the charge you are accused of was committed without exception.
Evidentiary Exclusion: Evidence can be excluded if it was improperly collected. Evidence includes your statements, physical evidence, or the statements of others. The exclusion of key pieces of evidence can weaken the prosecution’s case and make it more difficult to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Misidentification: Eyewitness testimony is being called into question for its reliability more and more often. The simple fact is that sometimes eyewitnesses are wrong. If the prosecution relies on an eyewitness, calling that eyewitness’s credibility into question can be an effective way to introduce reasonable doubt.
Code of Virginia § 18.2-30
Commonwealth v. Cary, 271 Va. 87 (2006)
Eyewitness Identification Reform Should be Realized