Many people think first of murder when they consider serious criminal acts. Taking the life of another person is one of the most harshly punished acts in the court system in Los Angeles. Los Angeles uses California Penal Code Section 187: Murder to prosecute individuals who intentionally kill someone else.
Murder charges can be complicated. The exact charges faced will depend on the situation surrounding the death. Make sure you understand the legal repercussions associated with PC 187 by speaking with a legal professional at the Simmrin Law Group today.
The Definition of Murder in California
- Not every homicide is or can be determined to be simple murder. Not only are there different charges and provisions for manslaughter or self-defense, but there are also many different types of murder based on intent and the circumstances. California defines murder as the unlawful killing of another individual with malice aforethought and no lawful justification.
The court uses two specific definitions for malice in relation to murder charges:
Individuals display implied malice if they commit an act they know will endanger human life. Individuals must consciously ignore the danger their actions pose to another person to demonstrate implied malice.
Express malice involves intentionally taking steps to kill another person for an unlawful reason. Intentional acts that cause harm are indications that someone is acting with express malice.
Types of Murder Charges in Los Angeles
The state of California uses several charges to prosecute individuals accused of murder:
The court can bring first-degree murder charges against individuals who premeditated an act of murder and intentionally carry it out. A conviction for first-degree murder can be punished with:
- Prison Time: 25 Years to Life
Note that individuals may also be charged with capital murder – or first-degree murder with special circumstances – in certain instances. A capital murder charge can involve 20 different actions, such as the:
- The murder of multiple victims
- The murder of police officers
- Murders motivated by hate
Capital murder can be punished with the death penalty.
Individuals can be charged with second-degree murder under PC 187 if they intentionally kill someone without planning out their actions beforehand. Second-degree murder is not punished as harshly as first-degree murder. The penalties for second-degree murder can include prison time of 15 years to life.
California can use a felony murder rule for both first-degree murder and second-degree murder. Individuals can be charged with felony murder if they commit a felony and someone dies. Even accidental or negligent deaths can be treated as murder under the felony murder rule.
Individuals can face charges of felony murder if someone loses their life for any felony act, including:
Individuals can be charged with DUI murder in California if:
- They Kill Someone
- While Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence
- With a Previous DUI Conviction
DUI murder may also be called “Watson murder” in a court of law. A conviction for DUI murder carries the same penalty as other acts of second-degree murder.
Defenses for PC 187 in Los Angeles
California Penal Code Section 187 establishes the conditions necessary for a homicide to be considered murder, as well as the various penalties for different types of murder. In order to properly prepare for any court proceedings with a PC 187 charge, it’s important to work with an experienced Los Angeles murder lawyer to prepare an adequate defense.
The incredibly steep penalties for a murder conviction make a strong defense important. Individuals can work with professional criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles to have the best odds for beating a murder charge. A lawyer may be able to build a defense by arguing:
The Death Was an Accident
Accidentally killing someone is not always considered murder in the state of California. However, if someone intentionally acted in a way they knew could endanger someone else, claiming the death was accidental may not work.
The Death Was Not a Murder
Because murder charges are so severe and the death of an individual is so significant, entirely dismissing charges or facing no penalties for involvement in a death may be difficult. Instead, a trained attorney may be able to reduce the charges of first-degree or second-degree murder under California Penal Code Section 187 to a lesser offense like manslaughter (under California Penal Code Section 192).
You Were Acting in Self-Defense
California does not hold acts of killing someone in self-defense to be murder. Individuals who only act to defend themselves or other people should not be convicted of murder under PC 187.
You Were Falsely Accused
Many times, police officers arrest people based on descriptions provided by individuals who saw a murder. Just because you match a description does not mean you committed a criminal act. You may be able to supply an alibi or other proof to show that you did not kill anyone.
Similarly, an attorney may be able to prove any confession or evidence you provided during interrogation and questioning was coerced or otherwise inadmissible.
Insanity Led to the Death
Some individuals carry mental illnesses that can prove dangerous. Actions taken due to the nature of a mental disability may not end up charged as murder.
Get Professional Help Fighting a Murder Charge
Individuals charged under California Penal Code Section 187: Murder end up facing difficult legal challenges. You can learn more about how to handle these charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group for a FREE consultation.
Call or fill out our online contact form to get help now. If we accept your case, we can help you begin to prepare your defense by walking through a legal strategy, investigating the incident, securing witnesses for your defense, and more. However, it’s important to act fast and choose an experienced attorney to handle charges under California Penal Code Section 187.