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15-year-old must prepare criminal defense to murder charge

The Virginia Beach police report that they are making progress in solving the murder investigation regarding the killing of an 18-year-old man on the front porch of his home with his mother watching on June 23. A 20-year old man was arrested and charged on July 11 with conspiracy to commit a felony. On July 20, the authorities say they arrested a 15-year-old and charged him with murder, conspiracy and using a firearm to commit a felony. Criminal defense attorneys face a tough challenge when a minor is being treated as an adult in a capital case.

It appears that the authorities intend to prosecute the minor as an adult. He is being held without bail in the Virginia Beach juvenile detention center. The shooting had poignantly tragic undertones. The victim had just completed his first day of work at Taco Bell, and it was the day before his 19th birthday.

The family had prepared a party for him. He was gunned down on his porch where he sat alongside his mother. The police have not reported a likely motive for the crime. It is also unknown whether the minor recently charged was the actual shooter.

He was arrested for using a firearm, but if other suspects are also accused of using a firearm, then criminal defense counsel will investigate the details of the allegations to determine whether it is simply a blanket charge on all of the suspects. This type of prosecution, with several suspects likely on the line in a murder case, requires the full attention of defense counsel and his or her investigative staff. One of the first concerns is to challenge the prosecution's attempt to put the minor through the adult criminal system. The penalties and consequences of a juvenile prosecution pursuant to Virginia law, even for homicide, are far less than what will be faced in the adult courts and in the adult penal system.

Source: pilotonline.com, "15-year-old boy charged with murder in Virginia Beach shooting that left an 18-year-old dead", Jane Harper, July 21, 2017

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