One of the most serious criminal offenses with which a person can be charged in the state of California is homicide, which can result in very serious penalties. Homicide encompasses manslaughter and murder. It should be noted that murder is then divided into first degree and second degree murder. First degree murder can include felony murder, killing another individual in a deliberate or premeditated way, or killing with an explosive device, weapon of mass destruction, poison, or armor/metal penetrating ammunition. Second degree murder includes any unlawful, willful killing that is not deliberate and premeditated.
If you are charged with any type of homicide in the state of California, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.
Penalties Associated With Murder Charges in California
If a person is convicted of first degree murder, he or she faces a maximum of life in prison. If a “hate crime” is involved, a person’s sentence might be increased to life without the possibility for parole. Capital murder also can result in a person facing life without the possibility of parole as well as the death penalty. If a person commits second degree murder in California and has a previous murder conviction, the victim was a law enforcement officer that the defendant intended to kill or severely injured, or used a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer, the individual can also end up facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. These are just some of the ways that the state of California aggressively pursues individuals who are charged with homicide.
Defenses to Homicide Charges in California
There are several defenses that individuals are often able to raise in response to homicide charges, which include the following:
- Accident: A defense can be raised if a person was killed accidentally and the person being charged acted lawfully, did not behave in a negligent manner, and lacked the intent to harm anyone.
- Fifth Amendment: Long recognized law prohibits confessions that are coerced or obtained as the result of inadequate Miranda warnings.
- Fourth Amendment: Evidence used in a court case that was obtained as the result of an unreasonable search or seizure without a warrant cannot be admitted into a court of law.
- Insanity: To argue the insanity defense, a person must establish that he or she either did not comprehend the difference between right and wrong or did not understand the nature of the actions committed.
- Mistaken Identity: There is significant evidence that suggest eyewitness identification is not reliable. In some situations, a person charged with homicide can challenge law enforcement’s use of unreliable witness identification.
- Self Defense or Defense of Others: These laws allow an individual to protect im or herself or another person if it is believed that acting so is necessary to prevent death or bodily injury.
Speak With an Experienced Encino Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our legal counsel has significant experience helping to create strong legal defenses. If you or a loved one is charged with homicide, you should not hesitate to contact our legal counsel. Contact RP Defense Law today to schedule an initial free consultation.