Murder charges are the most serious you can face in California. You may be looking at life in prison without parole and many other consequences. You need a strong defense team to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

Accused of murder in Folsom, CA? Call Walsh Law today at 916-237-8270 or use our online contact form to reach out and speak with an experienced Folsom murder lawyer.

Types of Murder Charges in California

Under California Penal Code Section 187 PC, the crime of murder is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought.”

Malice aforethought is what distinguishes murder from manslaughter, although both crimes are types of homicide. Malice aforethought means the killing was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. Manslaughter does not require this type of intent.

Murder is further divided into various categories:

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder (California Penal Code Section 189 PC) is the most serious type of murder in California. It is a killing that is willful, deliberate, and premeditated, or committed with malice aforethought.

Some examples of first-degree murder include:

Capital Murder

Capital Murder (California Penal Code Section 190.2 PC) is a type of first-degree murder that involves special circumstances such as:

  • Killing for financial gain
  • Killing more than one victim
  • Killing a police officer
  • Killing a witness to prevent testimony
  • Hate crimes
  • Drive-by shootings
  • Gang killings

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is any murder that is not a first-degree murder. It does involve malice aforethought, but it is without premeditation or deliberation. This can apply when an offender’s actions were not specifically with intent to kill, but their actions demonstrated a conscious disregard for human life.

Felony Murder

Felony murder may be first-degree murder or second-degree murder, depending on the circumstances and presence of premeditation or deliberation. Felony murder involves the commission or attempted commission of a qualifying felony that is the direct cause or natural consequence of the death.

It’s important to note that the offender does not have to directly cause the death or intend to kill the victim for felony murder to occur. The prosecution must simply prove that the death was a foreseeable result of the felony.

Qualifying felonies in a felony murder charge include, but are not limited to:

  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Carjacking
  • Torture
  • Sodomy

Charges Related to Murder

While murder charges are the worst you can face in California, there are other related or similar offenses that may arise as well, including:

  • Attempted Murder: This applies when a person takes at least one direct (but ineffective) step towards killing another person and intends to kill that person.
  • DUI Murder: This second-degree murder charge occurs when a person causes an accident while intoxicated and kills another person, and knew of the danger.
  • Street Gang Enhancement: If a murder is committed at the direction of, for the benefit of, or in association with a criminal street gang, there will be an enhancement of 15 years to life added onto any base murder sentence.

Murder Penalties in California

All types of murder are felonies with extremely high penalties. If convicted, you will certainly face years in prison and many other consequences once released – if you are ever let out. It’s essential to work with a Folsom murder lawyer who understands what is at stake and can get you the best outcome possible.

Specific penalties for various murder types include:

  • First-Degree Murder – 25 years to life in state prison
  • Capital Murder – life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
  • Second-Degree Murder – 15 years to life in prison

Multiple aggravating factors can extend the sentence of incarceration, including gang enhancements, prior murder convictions, and other special circumstances.

Other Potential Consequences of a Murder Conviction

A murder conviction has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the initial punishment of imprisonment. These collateral consequences, also known as legal restrictions or disabilities, can profoundly impact your life long after you have served your sentence.

Here are some of the collateral consequences of a murder conviction:

  • Loss of civil rights, such as the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on juries
  • Employment restrictions, making it difficult to find and maintain a stable job
  • Housing limitations, making it difficult to find secure housing
  • Public benefits limitations, including ineligibility for certain public benefits, such as food stamps and public housing
  • Immigration issues and the possibility of deportation
  • Firearm restrictions
  • Educational barriers, including difficulty obtaining financial aid or qualifying for certain educational programs
  • Professional licensing restrictions in certain fields, such as law, medicine, and social work
  • Social stigma and discrimination, making it difficult to reintegrate into society

Defenses for Murder Charges in Folsom

A murder charge can seem intimidating, but it’s not the end of the road. You still have an opportunity to defend yourself against murder charges. Folsom murder defense lawyer Chris Walsh knows how the prosecution pursues cases like these and he uses that information to fight back.

A strong defense can help you get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. Some common defenses Walsh Law uses in murder cases include:

You Acted in Defense of Yourself or Others

California self-defense laws allow you to protect yourself and others if you reasonably believe you are in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury. This is called a justifiable killing.

The Killing was an Accident

Murder requires criminal intent and malice aforethought. Without this type of intent and mental status, you should not be found guilty of murder. You may have a charge reduced to manslaughter in some circumstances.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

If you did not understand the nature of the act or could not distinguish between right and wrong, then you may be not guilty by reason of insanity.

Murder Charge FAQs

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

The biggest difference between murder and manslaughter is the necessary state of mind. The offender must have malice aforethought when committing murder. That is not required for manslaughter. Malice aforethought indicates a killing that was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. Manslaughter may be an accident without that type of intent.

Can the murder victim’s family file a lawsuit against an offender?

Yes, a murder victim’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit or a survival cause of action against the offender. They can attempt to get financial compensation from the offender or the offender’s estate. Additionally, a homicide conviction is not necessary because there is a lower level of proof required in a civil claim for money than there is in a criminal case.

What should I do if I’m being investigated for murder?

Murder investigations often take time. Law enforcement may ask to speak with you to get a statement or find out where you were at the time of the killing. You should never speak with the police or an investigator without legal assistance. If you think you’re being investigated for murder, immediately contact a murder lawyer in Folsom.

Get Help from a Folsom Murder Lawyer

A murder conviction can land you in prison forever. You don’t want to take that chance alone. At Walsh Law, our Folsom murder lawyers know how the prosecution develops murder cases. They understand the law and how to clear your name. The sooner you contact attorney Chris Walsh, the sooner you can rest easy with a professional by your side.

Call 916-237-8270 today or complete our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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