Yes, in the state of California, it is illegal to tell someone to commit suicide. This is in part due to the high suicide rates that the state faces. According to the California Department of Public Health, the suicide rate for the entire state was 10.5% during the latest year of reporting. Shasta County had the highest rate in all of California, with 24.9%.
California’s End of Life Option Act details that it is illegal to aid, advise, and encourage someone to die by committing suicide. This state law is also known as California Penal Code Section 401. The big exception to this state law pertains to physician-assisted suicide (or euthanasia) in a select few medical cases.
Nonetheless, the average citizen is not allowed to help with an individual’s suicide or tell someone to kill themselves.
What Are the Penalties for Violating California PC 401?
Violating the End of Life Option Act is classified as a felony, which means that the punishments for violating the state law can be serious. The two harshest penalties are fines up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 3 years. The severity of the punishments represents how important California takes any loss of life.
The best way to avoid these dire consequences would be to not aid, advise, or encourage anyone to commit suicide. Hire a criminal defense attorney from the Simmrin Law Group if you are facing charges of violating California Penal Code Section 401. We can help with minimizing the penalties or getting the charges dropped altogether.
For a free legal consultation, call (310) 896-2723
What Are Examples of California PC 401 Violations?
There are countless examples to illustrate what a violation of the End of Life Option Act is. An example of encouraging someone to commit suicide could be a bully at a high school telling another student to shoot themselves or to take a handful of pills. An example of aiding someone with committing suicide could be an elderly man helping his sickly wife overdose on pills.
Within all the different types of examples, there can be defenses made about how the person charged with violating California PC 401 did not break the law. This is can be done with the help of a criminal defense attorney who has years of experience dealing with these types of cases.
What Is the Difference Between Assisted Suicide and Murder?
A criminal defense lawyer can help you clear your name when it comes to being accused of advising and encouraging someone to commit suicide. However, aiding charges are a bit more complicated to deal with. This is because aiding someone’s suicide is considered assisted suicide, which borders on the line of being considered a homicide.
Assisted suicide can be described as encouraging someone on how to take their life and providing them what the necessary supplies to do it. Where it crosses homicide territory is when a person takes an active role in aiding with another’s suicide.
For example, telling someone how to overdose on medication and giving them medication would be assisted suicide, while actually helping them overdose (and possibly helping them swallow the pills) is closer to homicide. A murder conviction in the state of California can land you life in prison or the death penalty.
The intent behind the action is also a key factor when it comes to determining if it is assisted suicide or murder. Wanting to put your loved one out of their misery and hoping their body is finally at peace can be considered assisted suicide. Wanting someone dead because you are angry at them can be considered a homicide.
Hiring a seasoned criminal defense lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group can help save you from the stark punishments of a homicide conviction.
Click to contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers today
What About Your Freedom of Speech?
One of the biggest arguments surrounding the End of Life Option Act is the fact that it can abridge Americans’ first amendment rights to freedom of speech. However, this could be one of your best defenses when charged with telling someone to commit suicide and thus violating California Penal Code 401. A criminal defense lawyer could argue that, while it is a violation of the first amendment to threaten someone, encouraging them to commit suicide is not actually a threat.
They could also argue that telling someone to “drop dead” or “off themself” cannot actually be linked to a person committing suicide soon after and that there were other factors in their life that caused them to make that decision. You should not have to censor every word that comes out of your mouth because that violates your first amendment right (or so the argument could be made).
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
What Are the Best Defense Arguments Against These Charges?
Being charged with violating California’s End of Life Option Act is terrifying. Being accused of causing and/or helping with a person’s suicide can place you and your family in a difficult situation. There are various defenses that could be used to help your case, though we understand each situation is unique.
We could argue that you did not intentionally encourage their suicide or that you did not know the mental state that the suicide victim was in. We could also argue that you did not realize you were aiding in someone’s suicide. For example, you cannot be held liable for assisting with someone’s overdose of medication by picking up their pills from the pharmacy and giving it to them.
Most importantly, you cannot be convicted if there is no evidence of you advising and encouraging them to commit suicide. Additionally, proving criminal intent is vital to holding someone liable and punishing them under the law. Therefore, you cannot be convicted of violating California PC 401 if there is insufficient evidence of your supposed crime and criminal intent.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You?
Many people charged with violating California Penal Code Section 401 may hesitate to reach out to an attorney, perhaps thinking it would not benefit the situation. A defense attorney from the Simmrin Law Group will be your best shot at getting your name cleared.
Our team has a track record of success with helping clients in similar situations get their charges dropped or the penalties reduced. Contact us today and receive a free and confidential consultation.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form