Murder accusations are one of the handful of charges that can potentially carry the death penalty in California. These serious charges demand the knowledge and expertise of a top San Diego defense attorney like Peter M. Liss. If you have been accused or believe you are suspected of the murder of someone else, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
The first thing to remember when considering murder accusations are that when one person is killed by another, the person responsible could face a variety of charges. If the death was accidental, it will most likely be considered a manslaughter, not a murder. If the murder was purposeful, it will be categorized as either first or second degree.
Most people understand that if a murder was pre-planned that it will be charged as first degree, but there are other reasons a death could be categorized as a first degree murder. If the murder involved torture, poison, an explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, ammunition designed to penetrate armor, or if the suspect was believed to have been lying in wait to commit the crime, it will be a first degree murder.
Capital murder charges are first degree murder charges that meet select criteria to qualify the defendant for the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. Circumstances that make a murder a capital murder include, but are not limited to, killing for financial gain, killing multiple people, killing a witness to a crime, killing someone during a gang-related activity and killing someone as part of a hate crime. While most people charged with crimes are eligible for bail, those charged with capital offenses can be held without bail.
Second degree murders aren’t so easily defined as they apply to willful murders that were not premeditated or deliberate. Essentially, any murder that does not meet the criteria for a first degree murder will be a second degree murder.
Additionally, California has a list of felony crimes that can result in first or second degree murder charges if someone dies in the process of the crime. For example, if someone dies during a rape, robbery, burglary, carjacking or kidnapping, those responsible can face first degree murder charges even if the death itself was an accident. Other “inherently dangerous” felonies that result in a death will usually be charged as second degree murder.
Whether a murder qualifies as a first or second degree murder charge, it is critical anyone facing these charges seek out a skilled San Diego criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible as sentencing can range from 15 years to life in prison. Depending on your situation, your criminal defender in San Diego may choose to fight the charges -arguing that there is not enough legally obtained evidence to prove that you committed the crime, or work with the prosecution to minimize your sentence in a plea bargain.
San Diego defense lawyer Peter Liss has the experience to help you fight these extremely serious charges with the best possible outcome based on your specific circumstances. If you are under investigation for murder, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 as soon as possible.
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