Orange County Murder Lawyer
Under California law, murder is one of the most serious charge you can face. If you or a loved one is facing potential murder charges, it is important to speak with an experienced Orange County murder lawyer. Any responsible criminal attorney will tell you that cases of this severe require an attorney’s entire focus. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office assigns all murder cases to their homicide unit having veteran prosecutors and allocates its unlimited government resources to prove the defendant is guilty. Therefore, retaining the right attorney to tactically and artfully set forth your defense is imperative.
Overview of the Types of Homicide in California
Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus by another without excuse or justification codified in California under Penal Code 187(a) pc. The prosecutor must prove a defendant harbored a level of malice whether express or implied under the circumstances. Malice can be shown by evidence of someone’s intent to kill, intent to commit a felony, or extreme recklessness that results in the death of another. Lesser forms of homicide including voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter.
- First-Degree Murder: The government proves first degree murder in two ways by showing that a defendant harbored the intent to kill for an appreciable period reflecting on their intent. This is known as premeditation and deliberation. Another way is proving that a death resulted during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony, or attempt thereof. Consequently, a murder conviction carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years up to life in prison. Furthermore, if the prosecution alleges the offense to be a special circumstance, a defendant faces life without the possibility of parole. Lastly, a capital murder is punishable by death – e.g., killing of a police officer, lying in wait, multiple murders.
- Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder occurs when a death results in reckless indifference behavior or under the second-degree felony-murder rule. There is no requirement that a defendant has the intent to kill, but rather than a person was so reckless that they possessed a “don’t care” attitude towards the safety of others. For instance, driving 100 MPH intoxicated in a school zone at 3PM. Second-degree felony murder requires the defendant to be in the commission of a felony, but one that is not inherently dangerous under first degree. Second-degree murder is punishable in state prison for 15 years to life.
- Voluntary Manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter under Penal Code 192(a) is like murder under the premeditation and deliberation theory, however, the offense is mitigated due to a defendant acting in the heat of passion. Voluntary manslaughter is ordinarily argued by murder defense attorneys as a lesser offense to murder because it carries less punishment if convicted. There are several ways murder can be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter including, imperfect self-defense, or if a defendant acted in the heat of passion after being reasonably provoked. Voluntary manslaughter is punishable in the state prison for 9, 11, or 13 years.
- Involuntary Manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter codified under Penal Code 192(b) is the product of criminal negligent conduct that results in the death of another. This form of homicide is a wobbler, allowing the prosecutor to charge someone with either a felony or misdemeanor. Typically, the legal issue argued by murder attorney’s is that you were acting with ordinary negligence versus criminal negligence. In other words, your conduct fell below the reasonable person standard but not considered reckless. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter carries a jail sentence of up to four (4) years or in the county jail for not more than one (1) year.
- Vehicular Manslaughter: Vehicular manslaughter is like involuntary manslaughter only it occurs when a death results from you driving a motor vehicle. Charged under Penal Code 192(c), vehicular manslaughter can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Typically, conduct of ordinary negligence that results in death is a misdemeanor. However, if you were acting with gross negligence, then charge becomes a wobbler. A misdemeanor conviction carries up to one (1) year in the county jail, whereas a felony conviction carries up to six (6) in state prison.
Defense Strategies to Orange County Murder Charges
Our office has extensive homicide experience and with a successful litigation history that you need. Specifically, a full extensive defense investigation must be conducted to explore every and all possible defenses against the government’s case. This includes questioning all witnesses, subpoenaing evidence, and collecting all evidence used to impeach the credibility of the government’s witnesses. There are several common defenses to murder charges, including:
- Mistaken Identity
- Insufficient Evidence
- Lack of Intent / Accident
- Self-Defense or Defense of Another
- Questionable Forensic Evidence
- Lack of Witness Credibility
Contact an Experienced Orange County Murder Lawyer
A conviction for murder can carry a life sentence. Thus, you need help defending your case with an experienced and respected Orange County murder lawyer. Contact our office today if you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or under a murder investigation, for a free confidential case evaluation. Early retention of counsel could be the difference of spending years in prison or having the case rejected completely. Our office has an unmatched understanding of California’s homicide laws and will explore every pertinent fact when mounting your defense.