Defining Murder In California
California Penal Code Section 187 defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.” There are various degrees of murder recognized under California law, including:
- First-Degree Murder. When a person kills another with malice, intent, premeditation, and deliberate planning, they are guilty of first-degree murder. A charge of first-degree murder may also be issued assuming one of the special circumstances (per state law) applies. Examples of special circumstances include murders that occurred while performing other felony crimes, such as kidnapping, or a murder that occurs after the torture of a victim.
- Second-Degree Murder. If a special circumstance does not apply, and therefore the charge cannot be first-degree murder, then a charge of second-degree murder will be assessed.
- Manslaughter. California also recognizes the crime of manslaughter, which is the crime of committing homicide without malice. There are three types of manslaughter crimes recognized in California:
- Voluntary manslaughter.
- Involuntary manslaughter.
- Vehicular manslaughter.
Penalties For Murder Charges
Being convicted of first-degree or second-degree murder, or even manslaughter, can have tragic consequences. In fact, while a judge in California has ruled that capital punishment is unconstitutional, a person who is convicted of murder may face life in prison. It can be decades before a convicted murder is released on parole, if ever.
You Need A Strong Defense Team On Your Side
In order to mitigate the most severe of sentencing–life in prison–you need a skilled defense team on your side who will work tirelessly on your behalf. Potential defense options that Attorney Steve Whitworth can help you to explore include lack of malice, lack of intent or deliberation, pure innocence (i.e. you did not commit the murder in question), self-defense or defense of others, murder as a result of an unintentional accident, or insanity. In addition to building a defense, we can also work with the prosecution to strike a plea deal if a conviction is looking like a sure thing.
Call Our Law Office Today
If you are facing homicide charges in California, you need our murder defense lawyer on your side. The stakes are very high – work with our attorney to secure the best-case outcome possible. To schedule your consultation with the Law Office of Steve Whitworth, please call our law office at (916) 668-5970 or send us a message now. We offer free consultations.
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“He showed up at 4 am while I was in jail to brief me on how to get out. He not only got me out but got me the best possible deal. I was facing 15 years in prison and I got 30 days house arrest.”- Curt L.
“He is very good and educated at what he does.”- Shelby V.
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