MURDER & HOMICIDE
The criminal defense lawyers at Morgan Law Firm are experts at defending clients charged with a variety of homicide crimes, including.
- Murder (First and Second Degree)
- Excusable and Justifiable Homicide
- Manslaughter/Vehicular Manslaughter
A homicide is the killing of one human being by another, and murder is a type of homicide. In California, murder is the unlawful killing of a human or fetus with “malice aforethought.” “Malice aforethought” is the mental state required for a killing to be considered murder, and includes: the intent to kill; the intent to inflict serious and grave bodily harm; extreme reckless indifference to the value of human life (also referred to as “an abandoned or malignant heart”); or the intent to commit a dangerous felony.
There are different degrees of murder under California law, and each carries different consequences. First degree murder occurs in several circumstances, including: when the murder results from a willful, premeditated, or deliberate killing; when the killing is committed during the commission or attempt to commit a dangerous or violent felony, such as arson, rape, carjacking, robbery, and burglary (also known as the felony-murder rule); or the killing is committed by means of an explosive device, armor piercing bullets, or torture. Most other murders committed with “malice aforethought” are considered second degree murder.
First degree murder is punishable by death, imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment for a term of 25 years to life. Second degree murder is generally punishable by 15 years to life, but the sentence is increased where a police officer is the victim of murder.
Excusable and Justifiable Homicide
The California Penal Code states that homicide is legally excusable or justifiable under certain circumstances. For example, homicide may be legally excusable when committed by “accident and misfortune” in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, when no “undue advantage is taken,” no “dangerous weapon” is involved, and when the killing is not done in a “cruel or unusual manner.” Homicide may be legally justifiable when committed in self-defense – or in other words, when resisting any attempt to murder or inflict great bodily injury upon any person, or when resisting any attempt to commit a felony. The existence of a legal excuse or justification usually lessens the charge and sentence for a conviction.
Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without “malice aforethought.” A killing may be considered manslaughter when it occurs “upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” Vehicular manslaughter occurs in several circumstances, including when a killing occurs while a person is driving a vehicle during the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, or while a person is driving while intoxicated (please see our DUI page for more information about driving under the influence).
Seek Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you or someone you know has been arrested for or charged with a homicide, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately before discussing the charges with anyone, including the police. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Morgan Law Firm are here to defend you. We offer affordable payment plans and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact Morgan Law Firm today at (805) 765-4950.