California’s Penal Code 187 defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice aforethought.”
“Malice aforethought” further is defined by California law as the “conscious intent to cause death or great bodily harm to another person before committing the crime” and is considered a “general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives of others.”
The law does not require that a person planned or premeditated to murder another person for a second-degree murder charge to be bestowed. In addition, the law does not require that the person carried around animosity towards the victim.
In order for a defendant to be convicted of murder, a prosecutor must prove the person’s actions caused the death of another person of fetus; the person acted out of malice aforethought; and the person had no valid justification for his or her actions.
Murder is unlawful in California. However, there are possible defenses to this crime. It is important to hire a skilled attorney for representation in court who has experience defending against Penal Code 187 in California.
Sentencing for a murder conviction
The punishment for murder in California is severe. One may be sentenced to life in state prison with the possibility of parole or even may be given the death penalty. A wrongful death lawsuit also could result, forcing the person charged with paying up to millions of dollars in damages to the loved ones of the victim.
If someone is part of a murder investigation or already has been charged, it is crucial to contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney quickly for a consultation. This decision could possibly halt a life-altering punishment.
Possible Defenses for Murder
There are several defenses a skilled attorney can use in his or her client’s murder case. Cases of excusable murder, or homicide, often result in dismissal or acquittal. A very knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can identify the defense best suited for the individual facing a murder conviction. Several of these defense options include: accidental killing; citizens arrest to preserve peace; factual impossibility; insanity; killing in the heat of passion; mistaken identity; and self-defense or the defense of others.
Explanations of defenses against Penal Code 187
The following are just a couple of explanations as to why murder could be justifiable in court.
If a person kills another person to defend him or herself or another person, the actions may be excusable under California law. The person had to have believed that he or she or someone else was in danger of being killed or suffering great harm.
Furthermore, the murder could very well have been an accident. Perhaps, the person had no intent to cause harm; did not act negligently; and was a law abiding citizen at the time of the victim’s death.
Even still, murder often is a result of insanity. A skilled defense attorney will advise his or her client to plead “not guilty by reason of insanity.” The defense attorney will need to prove his or her client did not understand the nature of his or her behavior and lacked the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, however.