California’s Murder and Homicide Law

California’s Penal Code 187 PC defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malicious intention and acts with such a disregard for human life that the conduct results in death. Note that homicide is the killing of another person and therefore includes murder and manslaughter. Murder is the most aggravated type of homicide, and what distinguishes murder from manslaughter is that a crime of murder requires express or implied malice.

Murder and attempted murder charges need to be handled by a courageous and creative trial attorney who knows how to protect their clients’ rights. At Adams Law, we aim to provide clients accused of murder with effective and courageous representation, especially when their future hangs in the balance. Attorney Eric Samuel Adams, Jr. has handled thousands of cases and has even run suppression motions to obtain dismissals. He does not waste any of his clients’ time and takes the offensive immediately. In fact, he’s never even had a client plea to a murder charge; many of his murder and attempted murder charges have been dismissed prior to trial. Work with Adams Law on your murder defense today to protect your future and your rights.

First-Degree and Second-Degree Murder

First-degree murder convictions are punishable by 25 years to life in state prison. If the offense was a hate crime, the penalty is life without the possibility of parole.

First-degree murder may occur when the murder:

  • is accomplished by means of a destructive device, weapon of mass destruction, armor-piercing ammunition, poison, lying in wait, or torture;
  • is done in a way that is willful, deliberate, and premeditated; or
  • occurs during the commission of certain serious felony crimes.

First-degree murder may occur when the murder:

  • willfulness, but unlike first-degree murder it is not deliberate and does not include premeditation. For instance, second-degree murder might be if a person shoots a gun into a crowded room and kills someone they didn’t intend to kill. Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 years to life in state prison.

Note – that the court can also order enhanced sentencing based on additional factors present in the offense. For instance, if a defendant has prior murder convictions or shoots from a vehicle, they could face life without parole or 20 years’ prison in addition to their initial sentencing, respectively. It is also possible for the court to strip the defendant of their gun rights if they used firearms during the commission of the crime.

Felony Murder

California law also addresses a few other categories of murder, such as felony murder and DUI murder. Felony murder is the killing of another while committing a dangerous felony like:

  • arson;
  • burglary;
  • kidnapping;
  • lewd acts with a minor.
  • robbery;
  • carjacking;
  • rape;

Individuals will face felony murder charges if:

  • they were the actual murderer;
  • they intended to kill and even aided, abetted, or assisted the actual killer;
  • they were a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life; or
  • the alleged victim was an on-duty law enforcement officer.

Note – that accidental deaths that occur during felonies do not count as felony murder, unless the alleged victim was an on-duty officer.

DUI Murder

DUI murder, also called “Watson” murder, is a second-degree murder that occurs when someone causes an accident while intoxicated and kills a person as a result. Note that grounds for such a charge will likely lie in an implied malice theory, where the prosecutor may cite the defendant’s intention to commit a dangerous act with full knowledge of the danger, thus acting with wanton disregard for human life.

Situations in which the court may charge a DUI murder could be if:

  • the defendant has a prior DUI conviction;
  • a grossly intoxicated driver (with a blood alcohol content of 0.24%) speed from police and kill someone;
  • the defendant killed a family while driving up to 87 mph in a residential street race;
  • a truck driver drove a semi-trailer on a steep highway knowing the brakes wouldn’t be able to comply.

Defend Against Your Murder Charges Today

If you have been charged with murder or homicide in Los Angeles, do not hesitate to consult a professional murder attorney immediately to get started on your defense. The consequences upon conviction could be serving the rest of your life in prison, among other penalties.

An experienced murder lawyer like Attorney Eric Samuel Adams, Jr. can develop an effective defense for you in court, such as arguing that:

  • you acted in self-defense;
  • the murder was accidental;
  • forensic evidence was tainted.
  • you suffered from insanity;
  • evidence was obtained by way of illegal search and seizure; or

Attorney Adams could also argue for mitigated charges instead, such as claiming that the killing is a lesser offense like involuntary manslaughter. Attorney Adams has handled many murder charges throughout his career and has never had a client plea guilty; he has had many of the murder and attempted murder charges dropped, even before trial. As a result, you can trust that you are in creative, results-driven hands when you work with Adams Law on your murder defense.

Contact Adams Law online or at (310) 975-7390 today to discuss your case in a free consultation.