Los Angeles Murder Defense Attorney
A charge of murder in the state of California is an extremely serious offense. With penalties ranging from 15 years to life in prison to death (for a second-degree murder conviction) and confinement for life without possibility of parole to 25 years to life (for a first-degree murder conviction), a murder conviction will affect your life and the lives of your loved ones for decades. With consequences like these, you need a strong defense strategy to gain the best possible outcome of a murder charge.
According to PC 187, the California law governing the crime of murder, murder is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” This means that any killing of another, whether deliberate or not, that occurred intentionally or that occurred while you were engaged in an action that you knew could result in a death can be legally classified as murder. In contrast to an accident or unfortunate circumstance that results in death, murder is a crime that has severe penalties attached to it.
Breakdown of Penalties for Murder in California
California law breaks down types of murder in relation to the penalties associated with the crime as follows, with some specific distinctions that depend upon the circumstances surrounding the murder.
- First Degree Murder - A deliberate action with the intent to willfully take the life of another. For instance, a first degree murder charge might result from someone killing another after firs going to their residence with the intention of killing him or her, lying in wait to kill a specific individual as he or she goes about their daily activities, or involve a killing that is carried out using an explosive or destructive device.
- Second Degree Murder - An action that results in the death of another where there was no provocation or intent to kill the victim, or when a killing is the result of circumstances in which someone was killed when the defendant was engaged in an unlawful activity (a death that results from a severe beating, an illegal abortion, during a robbery or other felony, etc.)
- Capital Murder - A murder designation that considers over 20 special circumstances that have a death penalty attached to them or a life sentence without possibility of parole. Capital murder penalties usually involve the murder of more than one victim, murder for financial gain, murder of a police officer, fireman, elected official, murder of someone to keep them from testifying, murder in gang related instances, etc.
Defenses for Murder in California
Defending a murder charge is complex, requiring not only legal expertise and experience in handling of the case, but the additional resources of investigators, forensic specialists, jury consultants and other types of experts. Defenses that are typically offered in defense of a murder charge include:
- Self-defense or defense of others
- A claim of accidental killing
- A claim of insanity
- A coerced or false confession
- An illegal search or seizure
- A mistaken identity