California’s murder laws changed in 2019. Prior to 2019, you may be charged with murder in California if someone died while you were performing a criminal, regardless of whether you intended to kill or were even involved in the killing.
The conditions under which you can be convicted of “felony murder” have narrowed as a result of the 2019 law amendment. We’ll look at the many types of homicide in California and what may lead to a conviction for each. If you need to speak to a murder defense attorney in Orange County CA, call Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857.
First and second degree murder
For the prosecution to charge someone with murder, the alleged perpetrator must either have killed another person intentionally or have done any of these actions while they were committing a felony:
- Directly killed someone
- Had the purpose to murder and helped the killer
- Was an essential part of the crime and had “reckless disregard” for the life of others
- Took part in a crime that concluded with the death of a police officer who was on duty
Murder in the first degree
When there is preparation done for a murder, otherwise known as premeditation, or if a murder is done willfully and/or deliberately, then it is first-degree murder in the state of California.
There are other situations that can result in first-degree murder charges, such as any murder that involves explosives, armor-piercing bullets, a weapon of mass destruction, shooting a gun from a moving vehicle, or poison. Additionally, lying in wait or torture used in the killing, or if the murder took place in the context of a violent crime such as kidnapping or rape, can all lead to first-degree charges.
Murder in the second degree
So what is second degree murder? The easiest way to look at it is to think of it as any homicide that does not fulfill the criteria for first-degree murder is classified as second-degree murder. The other elements of a murder conviction must still be fulfilled, such as an intent to kill or significant involvement in a felony. To get more information on this, call a murder defense attorney in Orange County CA.
Potential punishments for a murder conviction
In California, a conviction for first-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum punishment of execution. A conviction for second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum term of life in prison. If the defendant has a prior murder conviction, he or she may be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
Call a murder defense attorney in Orange County CA if you are facing these charges
If you have been accused of or charged with murder, then it is important to contact a murder defense attorney in Orange County CA as soon as possible. You can call Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a consultation.