What Are The Penalties for Violent Crimes in Richmond, Virginia?

There is no set penalty for violent crimes in Richmond, Virginia, nor is there one anywhere in the Commonwealth. Instead, the court will look to the guidelines set forth by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. On paper, these may be stated in black-and-white terms, but still, they are guidelines, leaving many areas of gray regarding the actual sentence a defendant receives.

In such cases, a prosecutor may have all the direct evidence he or she needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Still, a thorough defense attorney can pull back the curtain to reveal circumstances that, while they do not absolve the accused, they paint a full-color presentation of everything leading up to and surrounding the defendant’s action. Having said this, there is no guarantee of an acquittal, but it is possible that the penalty can be reduced. But, of course, it depends on what violent crime the penalty has been accused of.

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Violent Crimes As Seen Through the Eyes of the State of Virginia

The definition of a violent crime differs by degree from state to state. Still, according to the Code of Virginia, anyone who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a crime of violence.

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Kidnap
  • Assault with the intent to maim, disfigure, kill, or disable
  • Mayhem
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Larceny
  • Breaking and Entering
  • And in some cases, even threatening to do harm can constitute a violent crime.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Do if You’re A Suspect in A Violent Crime Investigation

If the police apprehend you on suspicion of committing or taking part in any of the above, the worst thing you can do is admit that you did it. In fact, you shouldn’t even say you didn’t do it. The police are not required to read you your Miranda rights until they intend to take you into custody, but you still have the right to remain silent. But whether you’ve been Mirandarized or not, the wisest thing to do is to say nothing and seek the help of a Richmond defense attorney, even if it’s only for a consultation. The worst thing you can do is admit you’re guilty because, in effect, you’re asking to be arrested. But even if you do, a good defense attorney can look into the circumstances of your interrogation and determine if the circumstances caused your emotions to overrule your common sense.

What a Violent Crime Defendant Should Be Prepared for

As you can see, these are all serious crimes, and, as such, anyone convicted of committing any of them should prepare for serious consequences. As a rule, penalties correspond to the severity of the injuries the victim suffered. Even though some intentionally violent crimes, such as kidnappings and battery, that cause permanent impairment are classified as class 2 felonies, others, like extortion and involuntary manslaughter, are tried as class 5 felonies in cases where injuries are nonexistent or minimal, depending on the circumstances, a defense attorney may be able to present the case such that it is tried as a class 4 misdemeanor and in the best case scenario get the sentence reduced to probation.

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In a worst-case scenario where the crime is determined to be a felony, the sentences are more consequential., If convicted of a class felony 4, a defendant may be sentenced to 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000. If the crime is considered a class 2 felony, the defendant can be looking at a sentence of 20 years to life and a $100,000 fine.

How A Successful Violent Crime Defense Lawyer Can Help

A skillful dense attorney with experience in defending clients accused of violent crimes will start by investigating the possibility of police misconduct and inconsistencies in witness statements. He will then and then go on to interview anyone who has knowledge of the mental state of the defendant and his prior relationship with the person he has allegedly harmed. Once he has all these details and information, he will formulate an argument that may result in a reduction in charges. These may include self-defense or defense of a third party, antagonistic behavior or escalation on the part of the alleged victim, and in some cases, mistaken identity.

This is especially critical in light of a recent study conducted by the National Registry of Exonerations in which investigators reviewed the cases of 2,400 people who were exonerated between 1989 and 2021 after serving decades-long prison sentences.

54 percent of these wronged innocent individuals classify as victims in their own right since they themselves were victims of official misconduct in that

  • 34 percent of these cases involved police misconduct
  • 30 percent involved prosecutor misconduct
  • And some involved both.

The importance of a violent crimes attorney making sure he has left no stone unturned in his thorough investigation is underlined by the fact that 93 of these wrongly imprisoned individuals who were exonerated between 1989 and 2021 were in a race for time since they were facing death sentences.

The Range of Sentencing at the Conclusion of Violent Offense Investigations and Trials

Just as every accused person is unique, every case is different. In some cases, after a thorough investigation and consultation with relative experts, it turns out that the accused did indeed commit the act, the best a violent crime lawyer can do is work toward avoiding a life sentence in favor of many years spent behind bars. In other instances where the lawyer uncovers mitigating factors and the accused has had a clear record up until this time, he may be able to reduce the violent offense charges or even get them dropped in exchange for probation and counseling or participation in community services. At any rate, the offense will appear on his or her record and follow him through life.

In light of all these outcomes, it becomes apparent that anyone accused of or whose family member has been arrested on suspicion of having committed a violent crime needs to be represented by an experienced Richmond defense attorney.

FYI: Recent Relevant Law Changes

The Virginia legislature has passed several laws intended to combat the use of firearms in perpetrating violent crimes. The first went into effect on July 1, 2021, prohibiting anyone convicted of perpetrating assault and battery on a family or household member from buying, possessing, or carrying a firearm for three years following conviction. 

And as of 2022, an updated background check law requires gun dealers to obtain written permission from anyone seeking to purchase a firearm. And should it reveal any of the following, prohibit the sale.

The buyer has been

  • The subject of a restriction order after stalking, harassing or threatening a family member, intimate partner, or partner of such;
  • Involuntarily admitted to a mental treatment facility
  •  Acquitted in a trial by reason of insanity 

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