Murder Defense Lawyer in the San Fernando Valley
Murder charges are among the most serious crimes that you can be charged with in California. If you are convicted of one of the state’s murder offenses, you can potentially face up to life in prison or receive capital punishment. Murder charges are extremely serious. If you are charged with murder in the San Fernando Valley, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Naderi Law Office as soon as possible.
What are the California murder crimes?
Murder can be charged when someone unlawfully kills another person or fetus with “malice aforethought” under Cal. Pen. Code § 187. Three murder offenses can be charged, including the following:
- First-degree murder
- Second-degree murder
- Felony murder
Each of these types of murder offenses can lead to up to life in prison. A first-degree murder conviction can result in 25 years to life in prison or capital punishment under the state’s death penalty.
First-degree murder in California
You can be charged with first-degree murder in California if you murdered by using one of the following devices or methods:
- A destructive device
- A weapon of mass destruction
- By lying in wait for the victim
- With armor-piercing bullets
- By torture
- The murder was premeditated, deliberate, or willful
- The murder was committed while you were committing a different felony offense
The felony murder rule has been changed, however. Under the new law, there are some restrictions on who can be charged with felony murder, which we will detail further below.
A conviction for first-degree murder is punishable by 25 years up to life in prison. If you receive a sentence of 25 years to life, this means that you will not be eligible for parole until you have served at least 25 years of your sentence. However, the likelihood of being granted parole at your first parole hearing is minimal. In particularly egregious circumstances, the prosecution may seek capital punishment, which means the death penalty.
Second-degree murder in California
Second-degree murder charges require that you committed the offense with “malice aforethought.” However, a second-degree murder charge is used when the offense was not committed with premeditation or in one of the ways that are listed for a first-degree murder charge. If you are convicted of second-degree murder, you will be sentenced from 15 years to life in prison. If the conviction resulted from you firing a gun from a vehicle, the minimum sentence is 20 years instead of 15.
Felony murder in California
A felony murder conviction historically could occur when a person was present and participated in the commission of a felony, and another person was killed as a result. For example, under the old law, you could be charged and convicted of felony murder if you and an accomplice robbed someone, and your accomplice then stabbed the victim to death. This meant that you could be charged even if you were not the person who killed the victim.
In Sept. 2018, Gov. Newsom signed SB 1437 into law. This new law greatly restricted who could be charged with felony murder and was made retroactive. Under this law, you can only be charged and convicted of felony murder under the following circumstances:
- You directly killed a person during the commission of a different felony;
- You actively aided and abetted another person to kill the victim during the commission of a felony;
- You were a major participant in the killing; or
- The person who was killed was a law enforcement officer who was engaged in performing his or her job duties.
Prosecutors across California have filed court challenges to the new law. However, judges have ruled both for and against the law based on constitutional challenges. The outcome of these challenges will likely be determined by the California Supreme Court.
Contact the Naderi Law Office
If you or a loved one has been charged with murder in California, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling murder cases as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Naderi Law Office have defended people against all levels of crimes, including murder offenses. We are conveniently located next to the San Fernando Courthouse at 405 N. Maclay Ave., Suite 203 in San Fernando. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
405 N. Maclay Ave., Suite 203
San Fernando, CA 91340