Legal Definition of Murder in California
According to Section 187 of the California Penal Code, “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Under this definition, any loss of life—whether deliberate or not—that you intentionally or knowingly caused could result in murder charges. Capital murder usually involves more than one victim or the murder of a police officer, fireman, elected official, or another specified public servant. Murder in the first degree often requires prosecutors to establish that the perpetrator intended to take the life of another through careful planning, lying in wait, or using an explosive device to take a life. Second-degree murder refers to actions that result in the loss of someone’s life without provocation or intent to kill the victim or when an unlawful activity (aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) leads to someone’s death.
Serious Penalties for Murder Convictions
Depending on the specifics of the case, a person convicted of second-degree murder could face between 15 to life in prison. Those convicted of first-degree murder may spend between 25 years to life in prison. Even if you fulfill the terms of your sentence and are released on parole, this conviction will severely limit your employment and housing options. Murder convictions often carry devastating impacts on the perpetrator’s family as well.
Preserving Your Future and Freedom
When law enforcement arrests you for murder, it’s easy to assume the worst and believe that your life is over. However, remember that you have legal rights and protections—call our experienced criminal defense lawyers right away to discuss the circumstances of your arrest. Together, we’ll look for any violations of your rights and get to work preparing you the strongest possible defense. Don’t leave your future up to chance—contact our office today.