Felony Murder Rule in Anaheim

When you are in the city of Anaheim and cause someone else’s death while committing certain California felonies, you can be charged with ‘Felony Murder’ even if the murder was an accident, unintentional or negligent.

Some of the specific California felonies that you will need to be involved in to be charged with a felony murder include; kidnapping, sexual crimes, arson, carjacking, burglary, robbery, mayhem train wrecking and homicide involving shooting out of a vehicle with the intention to cause death. Regardless of the number of people involved in the crime or the intentions of the people involved, anybody participating in a felony where a death occurs can be charged. For example, if someone with no knowledge that there was a group of teenagers inside of a building were to light fire to for their own pleasure and not for killing purpose, and the group of teenagers ended up dying due to the fire, then the person would still be charged. It should be noted that the felony murder rule does not require all the participants of the crime to be present while the murder happened. For example, if, during a gas station robbery, one of the robbers were to kill the person in charge of the cash register in order to get the money out, then even the getaway driver can be charged with the felony murder rule.

Generally, if you kill someone without malicious intent, you will be charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter. However, California Penal Code 189 makes an exception to involuntary manslaughter charges for two main reasons.

  • To prevent death during a felony and
  • To prevent people from committing a felony in the first place
Sentencing for felony murder

There are two types of felony murder charges: first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony murder. The main distinction between the two charges is the type of felony that was committed when the death occurred. The penalties for each of the charges also varies but could easily result in life imprisonment.

Defenses against felony murder

Felony murder charges are just as serious as ordinary murder charges and therefore need to be taken seriously. This means that you need to find an experienced criminal attorney with a history of success in defending felonies and murder charges. Clearly beating both charges would be a great victory, but if we were able to get the DA to drop either one of the charges (the felony, or the murder charge), that is a tremendous success and could lead to a significantly reduced sentence, down to only probation in some cases.

Some of the defense strategies that a good attorney will explore on your behalf include:

  • You did not commit or attempt to commit the underlying felony
  • The felony that you may have committed wasn’t inherently dangerous
  • The felony and the murder were undoubtedly independent acts

There are of course several other defense strategies that your attorney should explore depending on your specific circumstances.

Speak to an attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group today about your felony murder charge.

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