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Homicide Charges in Nevada County

Homicide is a broad term that refers to the unlawful killing of one person by another. It’s important to understand that it encompasses a wide range of situations. In California, there are two categories of homicide: murder and manslaughter.

The categories of homicide are differentiated by a concept called “malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought is a legal term that refers to the mental state of the accused at the time of the killing. If the killing was willful, deliberate, and premeditated, then the law considers the accused to have had malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is a required element of murder, but it is not associated with manslaughter.

Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing without malice aforethought. This means there wasn’t premeditation or an extreme disregard for human life. There are multiple categories of manslaughter:

Voluntary Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192 PC, voluntary manslaughter occurs when the killing happens in the “heat of passion” due to extreme provocation or sudden emotional distress.

For example, if someone reacts impulsively to witnessing the assault of a loved one, they may be charged with voluntary manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192(b) PC, involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing resulting from recklessness or criminal negligence.

An example of involuntary manslaughter may include allowing an aggressive animal to harm someone, causing their death.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC, vehicular manslaughter is a type of involuntary manslaughter that involves driving a vehicle negligently, recklessly, or unlawfully and causing the death of another person.

For example, if you cause a fatal accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Murder Charges

In California, murder is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” (California Penal Code Section 187(a) PC). Murder is also divided into categories:

First-Degree Murder

Under California Penal Code Section 189 PC, first-degree murder is willful, deliberate, and premeditated. You may also be charged with first-degree murder if it was committed during the commission of certain other felonies, including rape, robbery, and arson.

Second-Degree Murder

Under California Penal Code Section 189 PC, second-degree murder is any murder that is not found to be willful, deliberate, and premeditated. Second-degree murder may also be an additional charge if someone is killed during the commission of certain other felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon.

Capital Murder

Under California Penal Code Section 190.2 PC, capital murder is a type of first-degree murder that involves a killing in certain situations that are specifically detailed in the California Penal Code. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Killing for financial gain
  • Killing more than one victim, a police officer, or a witness to prevent testimony
  • Hate crimes
  • Drive-by shootings
  • Killings involving gang members or gang activity

Felony Murder

In California, felony murder may be either a first- or second-degree murder. It applies when a death occurs during the commission or attempted commission of certain dangerous felonies, even if the defendant did not intend to kill anyone.

For example, if an individual stabs someone while robbing them and the victim dies, then the offender may be charged with a felony.

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Penalties for Homicide in Nevada County

In California, the penalties for homicide depend on the specific type of homicide and its accompanying circumstances.

Manslaughter Penalties

A manslaughter conviction can result in the following penalties:

  • Voluntary manslaughter: three to 11 years in prison
  • Involuntary manslaughter: two to four years in prison
  • Fines of up to $10,000
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Counseling

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the case’s specific facts. You can face between one year in county jail and up to six years in state prison. Reaching out to a manslaughter lawyer is important to helping you defend against your charges.

Murder Penalties

A murder conviction could result in the following penalties:

  • First-degree murder: life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
  • Second-degree murder: 15 years to life in prison

In California, certain aggravating factors can result in additional time on your sentence. For example, if the murder occurred as a drive-by shooting, then the penalty is automatically 25 years to life. If a gun was used in the murder, then you could get an additional 10, 20, or 25 years to life in prison. Make sure to contact a murder lawyer to fully understand your charges.

Why Hire a Nevada County Homicide Lawyer?

If you are being investigated for homicide or already have murder or manslaughter charges against you, then you need to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with homicide cases in Nevada County. These are some of the most serious charges you can face. You should not travel down this path alone, so it is important to reach out to a homicide attorney in Nevada County, California.

Violent crimes attorney Chris Walsh will conduct an in-depth investigation to determine what happened and use the evidence to support your case. Chris is a former prosecutor who knows how the other side develops arguments. He will find the state’s weak points and use them to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Walsh Law will tell you the truth about your case. We will honestly communicate what you are facing and explain your options. We will also fight to get the best outcome possible.

Defending Against Homicide Charges

Defenses to various types of homicide must be carefully crafted while considering the case’s specific facts. Every homicide case needs a unique defense strategy to fight against the allegations being presented. The Grass Valley homicide lawyers at Walsh Law will develop the strongest defense possible and attack the prosecution’s case against you.

We may use one or more of the following defenses:

  • Self-defense: You have a legal justification to protect yourself from imminent harm.
  • Defense of others: You can also use force to protect someone from harm.
  • Accidental death: If you did not intend to kill someone, and you did not act negligently or recklessly, then the death may have been an accident and not a homicide.
  • Mental illness: If you lacked the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of your actions at the time of the homicide, then you may not be convicted.
  • Misidentification: A witness or the victim may be mistaken in identifying you as the perpetrator.

What should I do if I’m facing homicide charges?

You should immediately consult a Nevada County homicide attorney who has handled many homicide cases. Don’t talk to the police or investigators alone. They will use everything you say against you. Instead, let your homicide lawyer handle all official statements and begin an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened.

Can mental illness be a defense in a homicide case?

Mental illness may be a factor in a homicide case, but it doesn't automatically excuse the defendant's actions. Its potential effectiveness as a defense relies on several factors, including diminished capacity, ability to form specific intent or premeditation, and impairment.

What’s the difference between murder and manslaughter?

Both murder and manslaughter involve the unlawful killing of another person, but the key difference lies in intent and culpability. Murder requires malice aforethought, or intent to kill and action with reckless disregard to human life. Manslaughter lacks malice aforethought.

Call Walsh Law for Homicide Defense in Nevada County

Homicide charges are serious, including both murder and manslaughter. A conviction will change your personal and professional life in every way. Nevada County criminal defense lawyer Chris Walsh will aggressively fight for you from the beginning to the end of a homicide case. He is a former prosecutor and knows how to build a strong defense against the other side. He will use his knowledge to protect your rights.

Call Walsh Law today at (530) 499-0645 to schedule a free initial consultation with a homicide defense lawyer.

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