Your Virginia Capital Murder Quick Reference Guide

There are 13 variations of capital murder. Each requires that the killing of a person be “willful, deliberate, and premeditated.” In addition to this first element, a second element must be true. This second element may be any one of the thirteen contexts which the reference guide lists.

For more information on Capital Murder in Virginia, read our previous article here. Your local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer can best explain capital murder charges.

Virginia Capital Murder Definition Chart:

Based on Virginia Code 18.2-31

“The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing…” + ANY of the following:

1.    During the commission of abduction (see Section 18.2-48), if the intent of the abduction was to extort money or value, or to “defile” the person abducted;

2.    By another for hire (hitman situation);

3.    By a prisoner who is confined in state or local facility;

4.    During a robbery or attempted robbery;

5.    During or after a “rape, attempted rate, forcible sodomy, or attempted forcible sodomy or object sexual penetration;”

6.    Of a law enforcement officer (as defined in 9.1-101); or any law enforcement officer of a different U.S. state, “where the purpose of the killing is to interfere with the performance of official duties.”

7.    Killing of more than one person as part of the same act/transaction;

8.    When the victim is not the first person that the accused has killed with premeditation, deliberateness, or willfully within a three year period;
9.    When the killing is during and/or in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of a drug transaction involving a Schedule I or II controlled substance.

10.    When the killing is pursuant to a direction of a person who is part of a “continuing criminal enterprise” (as defined in 18.2-248 (I).

11.    Of a pregnant women, when the accused knows that the women is pregnant and acts with the intent to cause termination of the pregnancy;

12.    Of a person under the age of 14 (when the accused is 21 or older);

13.    During the commission of an act of terrorism (as defined in 18.2-46.4).

As you can see, capital murder can really be based upon numerous scenarios.  The Virginia Code references many other statutes in its definitions. Therefore, any attorney representing a defendant charged with capital murder must diligently research these statutes in addition to case law. “Case law” refers to other cases with similar facts. If you have questions about the nuances, applications, or rules contained within the Virginia Capital Murder Statute, please consult your local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer.