Murder (Homicide)

 

Murder in California is charged in degrees, as “Capital Murder”, "First Degree Murder", and "Second Degree Murder". The lower the number of the degree of murder the more serious the offense. Capital Murder is the most serious.

 

Captial Murder
California Penal Code (PC) section 190.2

Capital murder (in part, California Penal Code (PC) 190.2)

Under California law, capital murder...also referred to as first-degree murder with special circumstances...refers to first-degree murder charges that are punishable by either:

1. Capital Punishment (the death penalty) in California, or
2. A state prison sentence for Life without the possibility of parole "LWOP".

Capital murder applies to over 20 different situations with "Special Circumstances" that elevate first-degree murder to capital murder. These Special Circumstances are listed in California Penal Code (PC) section 190.2 and include (but are not limited to):

• murdering another for financial gain,
• murdering more than one victim,
• murdering a police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official,
• murdering a witness to prevent him/her from testifying,
• murdering another while committing, attempting to commit, or immediately after committing any of the felonies that subject a defendant to the first-degree felony-murder rule,
• murdering another because of his/her race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin,
• murdering another by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle (otherwise known as a "drive-by" shooting), and
• murdering another for the benefit of a criminal street gang pursuant to PC section 186.22.

Penalties

A conviction for 'Capital murder’ allows the state to penalize a person more stringently than for any other crime. If you a charged with capital murder, you face the possibility of execution.

 Capital murder is punishable by either:
1. The death penalty (which includes a choice of either a lethal dose of gas or an intravenous injection of a lethal substance), or
2. A state prison sentence for life without the possibility of parole.

Possible Defenses

Contact the Lee Law Group to defend your for a capital murder charge. Possible defenses include but are not limited to:
-  Self-defense or were defending someone else when the unfortunate death occurred, and thereby you are innocent of first-degree murder. Self-defense is an absolute defense requiring a "non-guilty" verdict.
-  The death was the result of an accident and thereby you had no intent to kill. Without 'intent', you must be acquitted of all types of murder charges except felony murder.
- The police’s case has insufficient evidence to proceed, or they are accusing you based on false accusations, mistaken witnesses or illegally obtained evidence, which must be excluded.

-  An insanity defense. This does not mean you are insane or "crazy". It does mean that at the time of the offense you were suffering from a mental defect or disease that rendered you unable to know that 'killing' was wrong. This is a complicated defense, as first degree is a serious and complicated offense.

You require skilled legal representation when charged with murder, which the Lee Law Group is able to provide. Whatever defense we use the Lee Law Group will fight for your acquittal.

 

First Degree Murder
California Penal Code (PC) section 187

Under California law, there are three ways to be convicted of first-degree murder:

1. By committing the murder (a) using a destructive device or explosive, weapon of mass destruction, ammunition primarily designed to penetrate metal or armor,or poison, or (b) by lying in wait or by inflicting torture pursuant to Penal Code (PC) 206, California's torture law.

 

2.  By killing in a way that is willful, deliberate, and premeditated, OR

 

3.  By way of the felony-murder rule, which states that if a homicide occurs during the commission of certain felony offenses the offender may be charged with first degree murder? However, the homicide must not be a natural or logical 'outgrowth' of the felony. That is, it must be independent of the underlying felony. Some felonies where first degree felony murder maybe charged are Arson, (PC 451), Robbery, (PC 211),  Burglary, (PC 459), Carjacking (PC 215), (PC) 207, Kidnapping,(PC 206), and torture and certain California sex crimes.

The California felony murder rule is very complicated. Contact the Lee Law Group for further explanation of this complicated legal rule.

 

Penalties

If convicted of Penal Code 187 as first-degree murder, you face 25 years-to-life in the California state prison.

However, if your first-degree murder conviction was based on a "hate crime", that is, a crime committed based on the victim's race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or nationality, you face a state prison sentence for life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). This means you remain in jail for your natural life.

 

Possible Defenses

The possible defenses for a charge of first-degree murder are the same as for capital murder. These include but are not limited to:

-  Self-defense or were defending someone else when the unfortunate death occurred, and thereby you are innocent of first-degree murder. Self-defense is an absolute defense requiring a "non-guilty" verdict.
-  The death was the result of an accident and thereby you had no intent to kill. Without 'intent', you must be acquitted of all types of murder charges except felony murder.
- The police’s case has insufficient evidence to proceed, or they are accusing you based on false accusations, mistaken witnesses or illegally obtained evidence, which must be excluded.

-  An insanity defense. This does not mean you are insane or "crazy". It does mean that at the time of the offense you were suffering from a mental defect or disease that rendered you unable to know that 'killing' was wrong. This is a complicated defense, as first degree is a serious and complicated offense.

You require skilled legal representation when charged with murder, which the Lee Law Group is able to provide. Whatever defense we use the Lee Law Group will fight for your acquittal.

 

Second Degree Murder
California Penal Code (PC) section 187

Under California law, second-degree murder exists:

1. When the murder is willful but is not deliberate and premeditated.


2. Second-degree murder is also defined as any murder that is not considered first-degree murder.


3. In addition, one may be charged with Second-Degree murder under the second degree-felony murder rule. This occurs when a homicide occurs during the commission of certain felony offenses when, (a) the felony is an act that is "inherently dangerous", and (b) the felony is not one that is specifically included under the first-degree felony-murder rule. As with first degree murder under the felony murder rule, the murder must be independent of the underlying felony. California courts have defined "inherently dangerous" felonies as those which cannot be committed without creating a substantial risk that someone may/will be killed. There is no established list of inherently dangerous felonies. As a result, the second-degree felony-murder rule is applied on a case-by-case basis.

The California second degree-felony murder rule is very complicated. Contact the Lee Law Group for further explanation of this complicated legal rule.

 

Penalties

If convicted of California PC section 187 as second-degree murder, you face 15 years-to-life in the state prison. However, there are circumstances that can increase your potential sentence to 20 or 25-years-to-life. For example, your sentence may increase to 20-years-to-life if you killed the victim by shooting a firearm out of a vehicle with the intent of causing serious injury; your sentence may increase to 25-years-to-life if the victim is a police officer; and increases to life without the possibility of parole if the victim is a peace officer, and you intended to kill him or her.

Additional penalties:

In addition to the prison terms above, California murder law subjects you to the following additional penalties:

•An additional 10, 20 or 25-years to life in prison if the defendant personally used a firearm during the commission of the murder,

• a "strike" on your record pursuant to California's three strikes law,

• additional sentencing enhancements if a gun is used or if the offense is gang-related,

• victim restitution,

• a maximum $10,000 fine, and

• the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm pursuant to PC section 29800, California's "felon with a firearm" law.

These severe penalties demonstrate why it's so critical to have an experienced attorney fighting for you.

 

Possible Defenses

The possible defenses for a charge of second-degree murder are the same as for first degree murder. These include but are not limited to:

- Self-defense or were defending someone else when the unfortunate death occurred, and thereby you are innocent of first-degree murder. Self-defense is an absolute defense requiring a "non-guilty" verdict.

- The death was the result of an accident and thereby you had no intent to kill. Without 'intent', you must be acquitted of all types of murder charges except felony murder.

- The police’s case has insufficient evidence to proceed, or they are accusing you based on false accusations, mistaken witnesses or illegally obtained evidence, which must be excluded.

- An insanity defense. This does not mean you are insane or "crazy". It does mean that at the time of the offense you were suffering from a mental defect or disease that rendered you unable to know that 'killing' was wrong. This is a complicated defense, as first degree is a serious and complicated offense.

 

IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH HOMICIDE OF ANY DEGREE, CONTACT THE LEE LAW GROUP AND WE WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.

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