Victorville Murder Attorney
Facing Murder Charges? You Need a Strong Defense Team
If you were accused of committing murder, Law Office of Heather Hinton is here to help you fight your charges. No matter how bleak your situation may seem, our Victorville murder attorney is committed to creating a solid defense strategy that protects your rights and freedom.
Facing serious charges can bring about a great deal of stress. When you choose to work with us, you can benefit from working with a compassionate and sympathetic advocate who carefully listens to your side of the story. Once we have the full picture, we can vigorously refute the evidence brought against you and make a case for your charges to be dropped.
What is the Difference Between First Degree and Second Degree Murder?
The main difference between first and second degree murder is that first degree murder is the intent or mindset of the person who committed the act. Generally, first degree murder is premeditated with the intent to kill, while second degree murder has no special circumstances such as intent to kill, or planning to kill.
First degree homicide involves premeditation, deliberation, or careful planning. Under California law, the prosecutor must prove a premeditated, deliberate killing with special circumstances. If the homicide included the use of weapons such as bombs, poisons, guns shot from a vehicle (drive-by shooting), then it is a first degree murder. First degree murder also includes murder done right after a rape, kidnapping, robbery, and other crimes. To sum it up, the main difference between first and second degree is that first degree includes the use of weapons and planning, while second degree is all other types of murders that can include negligence.
The other main difference between the two types of murders are their penalties. A first degree murder conviction can lead to the death penalty while a second degree murder conviction usually does not because it is considered a lesser crime.
When Does Killing Someone Count as Murder in California?
In California, murder is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought,” meaning that the killer acted with a conscious disregard for human life. Such malice may be either express or implied. The malice is “express” when the killer intentionally takes away the life of another. It is “implied” when a person does not have an intent to kill, but still acted with no regard for human life.
Examples of express malice include:
- Strangling the victim until they cease breathing or are unconscious
- Hiring someone to take another’s life
- Purposefully poisoning an individual
- Using a firearm against rival gang members at close range
Situations where implied malice is evident include:
- Allowing a child to play with firearms without supervision
- Throwing objects off an overpass to watch them hit the road or vehicles
- Driving drunk when the individual has been previously prosecuted for DUI
- Letting a dog run loose in a public place when it has a history of attacking and injuring people
When malice aforethought is present, whether express or intent, the crime is murder. If there is no malice aforethought, the offense is charged as manslaughter. While manslaughter is still considered a serious crime, it has lesser maximum penalties than murder.
A common defense tactic is to try to get the charges dropped from murder to manslaughter. The difference in punishment is significant and could mean serving less than 25 years in prison instead of life in prison or the death penalty.
Does California Have a Felony Murder Rule?
California scaled back the current felony murder rule, which allows defendants to be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim dies during the commission of the felony - even if the defendant did not mean to kill, or didn’t know that a homicide happened. This could hundreds of inmates petitioning the court for a reduced sentence.
What Are the Penalties for Murder in Victorville?
Those accused of killing another person could be charged with murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree. When the act of murdering someone involves premeditation to kill, it is often charged as first degree murder. Other circumstances that could result in first degree murder include the use of firearms, or the killing was committed during the commissioning of another felony crime, such as robbery.
First-degree murder convictions in California have three potential sentences, including:
- 25 years to life in a state prison
- Life imprisonment with no parole
- The death penalty
The other possibility is to be charged with second degree murder. The penalty for murder in the second degree is generally 15 years to life in state prison. However, several aggravating factors could make the sentencing harsher. For example, if the victim of the crime was a law enforcement officer, the prison term could increase to 25 years to life.
Get the Help You Need
Being charged for murder is a serious matter. Let Law Office of Heather Hinton help you craft a strong defense strategy to prove your innocence or get your charges reduced. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can begin gathering the necessary evidence to build your case.
Whether it is in the courtroom or at the negotiation table, Heather Hinton will advise on the best approach based on your unique situation.
Every case has its own intricate facts that Heather Hinton will carefully review in order to provide targeted legal advice for your legal matter.
Heather Hinton works with clients one-on-one so they can gain the full and unimpeded benefit of her legal experience and knowledge.