Killing another human being is not something that should ever be taken lightly. However, such events can be necessary in limited circumstances.
If you have found yourself arrested and charged with a criminal offense related to the killing of another, you may need a reputable criminal defense lawyer to help you clear your name. Excusable homicide under California Penal Code Section 195 could be a viable defense based on the details of your case. Learn more about whether this approach could be a good fit for you when you contact your attorney to discuss your charges further.
What Is California Penal Code §195: Excusable Homicide?
Under California Penal Code §195, you may be able to use excusable homicide when you kill someone accidentally. This is different from justifiable homicide, which occurs when someone kills another with intent but for a justifiable reason. Excusable homicide occurs when:
- There is a homicide in the heat of passion – A killing could be considered in the heat of passion if a person experiences an overwhelmingly intense emotional reaction and acted unreasonably or irrationally.
- The homicide is accidental – A homicide may be considered accidental when a defendant did not have any unlawful intent, was committing a lawful act, or was otherwise acting with caution.
For the defense to successfully prove a homicide should be considered excusable, the following must apply:
- The person kills must have provoked the defendant
- The defendant must have acted in the heat of passion
- The defendant must not have killed another with cruelty
- The defendant must not have used a dangerous weapon
- The defendant must not have intended to kill another
- The defendant must not have taken advantage of the person they killed
- The defendant must not have been criminally negligent
It may not always be clear whether you have messaged her on usable homicide under California law. To get the clarity you are hoping for, and to find out whether a justifiable or excusable homicide is going to be a valid defense against the charges against you, be sure to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.
Charges Related to Excusable Homicide
There are multiple charges you could face that could require an excusable homicide defense. Generally, some of the criminal charges associated with excusable homicide include:
- Involuntary manslaughter under California Penal Code 192(b)
- Voluntary manslaughter under California Penal Code 192
- Murder under California Penal Code 187
Both excusable homicide and justifiable homicide could be valid legal defenses to these offenses. Although there is no question as to whether the defendant is responsible for causing a person’s death, these defenses leave the opportunity for the defendant to avoid criminal liability for their actions. If you have questions or concerns regarding which defense is most likely to help you avoid penalties associated with a conviction, be sure to address your concerns with your criminal defense lawyer.
Types of Excusable Homicide Under California Law
Excusable homicide can take multiple forms under California law. These include homicides that occur in the heat of passion or by sudden combat or an accidental homicide. Someone can be justified in taking a human life if they are:
- Attempting to make a citizen’s arrest
- Defending their property or home
- Acting in self-defense or defense of others
In limited circumstances, public officers may also be able to commit hot homicide justifiably. If you are unsure whether the homicide you committed would be considered justifiable or excusable under California law, your best option is to reach out to your criminal defense attorney to find out how to best approach your case.
How to Argue Justifiable Homicide
If you are hoping to argue justifiable or excusable homicide, you will need to show that you killed someone while you were defending yourself or someone else from bodily injury or death in your home or on your property.
The Castle Doctrine
If you were defending yourself or someone else within your home, you may be able to utilize the Castle Doctrine to avoid criminal liability. For this defense to be valid, your attorney will need to be able to show that the person you killed was an intruder who intended to commit a violent act or attempted to commit a violent act by entering your home. You must have had a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary, and only use a reasonable amount of force to defend yourself or others.
Some of the potential crimes the decedent may have been attempting to commit could include sexual assault, mayhem, robbery, battery, race, or murder.
If the person you killed was committing a felony and you were attempting to make a citizen arrest, the homicide may be considered justifiable. However, this will only be a viable defense if you were attempting to prevent a riot, preserve the peace, and the felony must have posed a severe threat or danger to society or created a severe risk of bodily injury or death.
These are just a few of the potential ways in which you could argue a homicide was excusable or justifiable. Your attorney will need to closely evaluate the specific circumstances of your case to determine which argument is most likely to produce a favorable outcome for your case.
In some instances, the state’s prosecuting attorney may be willing to reduce or dismiss the charges against you entirely. However, your criminal defense lawyer will be prepared to move forward with a trial should it become necessary to defend you in court.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today
Whether arguing justifiable or excusable homicide, in some instances, the killing of another human being is necessary to protect your own life for the lives of others. You should not be sent to prison or ordered to cope with other criminal penalties for protecting yourself.
Work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to clear your name of the charges against you. Fill out our contact form or call our office to schedule your confidential case evaluation today.