When someone dies as a result of the actions of another, the person assuming responsibility for that death could face serious criminal charges. The facts of the case will determine how a criminal case could be prosecuted against them. Homicide, the deliberate and unlawful killing of another, can be criminally categorized as:
Facing any of these charges can be life-altering. It is important to seek advice from an attorney if you or someone you know is facing or could potentially face these charges.
California allows the use of the death penalty, meaning capital murder carries a high risk to a person that is charged. Capital murder is defined as murder with special circumstances. There are several ways to be charged with capital murder, including:
Beyond the death penalty, capital murder carries a possible life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. California currently uses lethal injection for prisoners who are sentenced to death.
First-degree murder charges refer to the intentional, premeditated killing of one person by another person. However, there are other ways a person can be charged with first-degree murder.
First-degree murder carries a penalty of up to 25 years in state prison. Depending on any additional charges filed, such as hate crime, additional penalties could be added, including life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Second-degree murder charges refer to the willful killing of another without that killing being deliberate or premeditated. In these situations, a suspect may have acted in spontaneous anger, with negligence, or accidentally. The types of accidents that qualify are those where there is knowledge of an action, behavior, or situation that could result in serious injury or death to another.
Examples of this type of charge are:
Second-degree murder convictions carry penalties that could include 15 years to life in state prison. The penalty will take into account a suspect’s prior convictions, what factors influenced the murder, and who the victim was, such as a police officer or other official.
Voluntary manslaughter is when a person willfully and deliberately kills another person, but it was not premeditated. For this charge to apply, the suspect must have been provoked and must have acted upon the provocation with obscured reasoning and judgment. Additionally, the average person would have to be considered to have acted similarly if in the same situation.
For example, if a person discovered their spouse in bed with someone else and then uses a weapon to kill the person in bed with their spouse, this situation would be considered willful and deliberate, but with no original intention of killing until the heat of the moment provoked the felony.
However, if it can be proven there was enough time for a suspect to “cool off” in between the moment they were provoked and the moment they take the life, then it could qualify for first- or second-degree murder.
Involuntary manslaughter charges occur when an individual kills another person through the commission of a non-felony crime that was not inherently dangerous or through a lawful act that might cause death if acted upon carelessly. These charges are devastating not only to the victim’s family but to the suspect as well because there was no willful, deliberate, or premeditated intent. However, this is still a felony crime punishable by up to four years in state prison.
This charge occurs when a person kills another person while driving; specifically, while performing an unlawful maneuver, a lawful act that could be considered risky or deadly, or intentionally causing an accident as a means to make money. Depending on the facts of the case and the suspect’s background, this charge could be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is considered a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to a year in state jail. If deemed a felony, it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Homicide cases always carry great weight. If you find yourself facing one of these charges, the life-altering consequences can be overwhelming. Using the services of a trusted attorney, like those at the Najera Law Group, P.C., can provide you with sound legal defense options that can help minimize the impacts of your case.
A Riverside criminal defense lawyer will start by looking at all the facts of the case to be sure that all your rights have been protected. They will then work with expert analysts to examine your case and determine if there were self-defense or accidental circumstances involved. Then, looking through the reports, they will ensure all evidence was obtained properly. These are just a few examples of the many ways homicide charges can be reduced or dismissed.
If you are facing criminal charges for any form of homicide, contact the Najera Law Group, P.C. as soon as possible. The sooner you have an expert criminal defense attorney on your side, the sooner you can start your defense. Homicide cases may carry great weight, but a great attorney will help you carry it. Contact our offices today and let us get to work for you.