Orange County Criminal Lawyers
Felony Murder Rule in Aliso Viejo
Under the normal rules of California Murder Law, a person is convicted of murder if they have an intent to kill or if they have a careless disregard for human life.
Specifically, if a person doesn’t have malice, then they cannot be charged with murder under normal California murder laws. Instead, they may be charged with involuntary manslaughter because they negligently or accidentally killed someone without malice.Why the Felony Murder Rule?
However, through California Penal Code § 189, if a suspect or a fellow culprit murders a person while committing a predicate felony, then they can also be charged with a felony-murder even if the murder was unintentional, accidental or negligent. It allows a killing that occurs in the course of a felony, regardless of whether it was accidental or otherwise, to be charged as first-degree murder. For example, if during a kidnapping, there were multiple people involved in the crime, such as the actual kidnapper and a getaway driver, and during the course of the kidnapping, the victim were to die, then it would fall onto the shoulders of not only the kidnapper, but also the getaway driver because of their participation in the death of the victim. Another example of the felony murder rule in action would be if two people were trying to rob someone’s house. In order to break into the owner’s residence, they threaten him with a gun. However, one of the offenders accidentally ends up shooting him. Although it was unintentional, and only one of them killed someone during the course of their felony, they could, once again, both be convicted of first-degree murder. They could both be convicted of first-degree murder. The felony murder rule defies the usual rules of homicide. While usually, the only circumstance that convicts them of murder is when they demonstrate the intent to kill with an indifference to human life, the offender, under the felony murder rule can be convicted regardless. It only has to be proven that they were a part of a felony where people were murdered.
Some of the predicate felonies that would lead to a felony-murder charge include; carjacking, arson, sex crimes, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, train wrecking and mayhem.
In the state of California and in the city of Aliso Viejo, Felony murder is set as an exception from normal rules for California Murder laws in order to prevent:
- The committing of felonies and to
- Prevent murder in the commission of a felony
Penalties for felony murder and non-felony murder are basically the same. As such, a suspect can be charged with first degree felony murder or second degree felony murder.
Penalties for a conviction of first or second degree felony murder ranges from:
- A California state prison term of between 15-years to life
- A life sentence without a possibility of parole or
- The death penalty
If you are charged with a felony murder charge, a strong legal defense from a team of accomplished criminal attorneys like the ones at the Johnson Criminal Law Group is critical if you are to expect the best possible results.
Contact Johnson Criminal Law Group for assistance with these types of cases today.