In California, abortion may be a legal option for a mother to choose, but otherwise killing an unborn fetus can result in murder charges. If you have been accused of murder related to the death of a fetus, call a San Diego criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Just because the death occurred to an unborn person does not mean it is a lesser crime.
In fact, California’s fetal murder statutes state that it does not matter if the fetus was viable or if the killer knew the woman was pregnant. While the legislature did not define age of fetus, the courts require at least seven to eight weeks after fertilization in order for these statutes to apply. For example, if a woman who was 10 weeks pregnant and not yet showing was killed in a random mugging, the attacker could be charged with two murders even if he had no idea the woman was pregnant.
On the other hand, there is no fetal manslaughter charge in California, so if a pregnant woman was accidentally killed, for example in a reckless driving accident, the person responsible would not be penalized because the woman was pregnant. This is particularly important to San Diego homicide defense lawyers for two reasons, first because it requires the defense to prove a defendant had murderous intent when the woman was attacked, and second because it means a plea bargain down to manslaughter also means having the fetal murder charge dropped.
If you are being charged for a federal crime, you can still be convicted for fetal homicide under federal law. In fact, it was the California case of Scott Peterson that pushed congress to create the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The federal law protecting the unborn is slightly different than California’s, so anyone accused of killing a fetus in a crime that qualifies as a federal offense needs to speak with a San Diego federal crimes lawyer immediately.
While fetal murder cases are serious, they can be won, just like traditional murder cases. The most important thing you can do when accused of such a crime is to refuse to speak with the police or prosecutors until you have spoken with your San Diego defense attorney. If you have been accused of killing an unborn person, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Ryan Somma