There are many arguments made about assisted suicide and its place in medical institutions around the country. While California’s End of Life Option Act allows for physician-assisted suicide in specific medical cases, this does not provide permission for other individuals to:
- Aid Another Person in Dying by Suicide
- Advise Another Person to Die by Suicide
- Encourage Another Person to Die by Suicide
Individuals outside of the medical field who take these actions can be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 401: Aid, Advise or Encourage a Suicide. Go over the specifics of this charge right here with the Simmrin Law Group.
Focus on the Legal Definition of Aiding, Advising, or Encouraging a Suicide
PC 401 can be used to prosecute individuals not covered by California’s End of Life Option Act who help another person die by suicide or encourage another person to consider suicide as an option. This can include a person’s family members or friends.
Note that PC 401 charges only apply if an individual encourages, advises, or helps another person to die by suicide. If an individual asks someone to kill them, and the person does so, this act will not be prosecuted under PC 401. Instead, the act could be charged as a murder.
Go Over the Penalties for a PC 401 Conviction in California
California’s court system treats aiding, advising, or encouraging a suicide as a felony. This means that a conviction for PC 401 can be incredibly severe. The results of a conviction can include:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Prison Time of Up to Three Years
You should be aware that the penalties for a violation of California Penal Code Section 187: Murder are much more severe. Anyone that actively takes the life of another person – even at that person’s request – could face:
- Life in Prison
- The Death Penalty
The severity of these charges represents how seriously the court system treats any loss of life in the state.
Examples of PC 401 Violations in California
You can review PC 401 charges with these examples:
A man grows very sick as he ages. He no longer feels like himself and he pleads with his wife to assist him with dying by suicide. She is moved by his pleas and helps provide him with an overdose of his heart medication. She could be charged under PC 401.
A high-schooler becomes very depressed after all the colleges he wanted to attend reject him. He talks about options to end his life with his friends, who do not realize how serious he is. He takes steps to end his life by suicide. His friends could avoid PC 401 charges, since they did not intentionally advise or encourage him.
Consider Legal Defenses for PC 401 Accusations
Dealing with a charge for aiding, advising, or encouraging a suicide can be incredibly difficult and emotionally fraught. You can ease some of the burdens you are facing with these charges by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer right away.
Your lawyer can help you go over all of your legal options. Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your case, a legal professional may be able to show that:
You Did Not Intentionally Encourage Suicide
Sometimes, you may be unaware that an individual is in a delicate mental state. You may enter into a discussion of suicide without realizing that your words could be taken as encouragement or advisement. In these situations, you may be able to avoid a conviction under PC 401.
You Did Not Realize You Were Aiding a Death by Suicide
Individuals may seek out help when trying to die by suicide. You could provide this assistance without realizing the impact of your actions. Your lawyer could build you a defense in this situation, since you did not harbor any criminal intent.
You Were Acting Under California’s End of Life Option Act
As we mentioned, certain medical professionals are allowed to assist patients who wish to die by suicide. A lawyer can go over your situation to find out if your actions were covered under California’s End of Life Option Act.
Defend Yourself from PC 401 Charges with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can provide you with the legal advice you need to handle California Penal Code Section 401: Aid, Advise or Encourage a Suicide charge. Start working on your defense now by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. We can offer you a FREE case evaluation about your unique legal situation.
Find out more about what we can do to help you by calling (310) 896-2723 or filling out our online contact form.