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Defense Strategies for Murder Charges in California

According to a report published by the California Department of Justice, there were 302,514 felony arrests in 2018 across the state. Among these arrests, there is no more serious charge than facing a murder charge. When it comes to defending against the state’s Penal Code §187 murder charge, there are a number of different defense tactics that can be approached. Each tactic used in a defense will vary depending on the specific facts of the case and it can also evolve as the case progresses. If you or someone you love is being charged with homicide, manslaughter, or first degree murder, it is critical to seek an experienced attorney.

Murder Charge’s Aggravating Factors

Even though a murder charge can already involve harsh penalties, there are factors that can make a sentence much worse. This can involve the following aggravating factors:

  • When the accused has a murder conviction in his or her criminal record;
  • If the crime involved another crime, i.e. robbery, arson, or rape;
  • In the event the victim was a police officer or other agent of the law;
  • When the murder was accompanied by torture;
  • In the event the accused ambushed the victim;
  • In the event the accused poisoned the victim;
  • If the accused is a known gang member; or
  • In the event that the murder case involved the use of explosive materials

Even when not factoring in an aggravating factor, most murder sentences will include getting life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a 20 or 25 year state imprisonment, or worse, the death penalty. Since murder is widely recognized as a heinous crime, a defendant will rarely receive mercy or sympathy from the prosecution, judge, or jury.

Defending Against a Murder Charge in the State of California

It is important to know that there are multiple defenses which can be utilized toward a probable exoneration. Depending on the case, the following may be utilized:

  • Innocence – The defendant did not commit the crime and evidence can help demonstrate that.
  • Self- Defense – In certain cases, it may be possible to demonstrate that the defendant defended against being attacked.
  • Provocation – When it can be shown that the victim provoked the defendant, this can sometimes result in a reduced charge.
  • Intervening Event – The victim’s death was a result of an event that was not in accordance to the defendant’s will or intent.
  • Duress – The victim threatened the defendant.
  • Necessity – Causing the victim’s death prevented the harm the victim would have caused on others.
  • Lack of Evidence – The prosecution does not have enough evidence to demonstrate that beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant caused the victim’s death.
  • Insanity – The defendant was not in his or her right mind when the murder occured.

Hire the Legal Support of a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

When being charged with murder in the State of California, your future will depend on your ability to defend your case. Consider seeking the legal support of a qualified law firm who can champion on your behalf.

The criminal defense attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP have many years of experience handling murder cases across the State of California. When facing murder charges, time is of the essence; consult the legal guidance of a proficient law firm today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.