Huntington Beach Murder Defense Attorney
Huntington Beach has a relatively low crime rate- the violent crime rate is about 47 percent lower than California overall and 42.5 percent lower than the nation as a whole. Fortunately, there are not many murders in our area each year. In general we have anywhere from one to three of these incident annually. However, even with the small numbers, it is not unheard of for local residents to face serious criminal charges stemming from a murder. In those cases it goes without saying that you need to contact an experienced Huntington Beach murder defense attorney.
California defines murder as the killing of another person with “malice aforethought”. This is a term that is hard to define precisely, but it is easiest to think of it as premeditation or planning ahead. The state criminal code (Penal Code section 187(a)) actually breaks murder up into sub-classes of crime. There is first-degree murder and second-degree murder. There is also “felony-murder” which arises even without planning. You can be charged without felony murder any time another dies in the middle of the felony crime being committed, regardless of the intent to actually take another life.
As you might expect the possible penalties for a murder conviction are the most severe in the entire criminal justice system. In fact, capital punishment may still be used for the most severe crimes. But, even non-capital murder crimes have very hefty sanctions. First degree murder results in twenty five years to life. That life sentence may even be without parole in some situations. Second degree murder generally carries jail time anywhere from fifteen years to life.
There are still defenses that can be used when charged with murder of any degree. With all types of murder, some may make the argument that the authorities simply have the wrong person and that they were not the ones who committed the murder. If this is the case, the defendant will often provide evidence that indicates that they are not the ones responsible. For example, the defendant could show evidence they were in another place at another time that does not align with when and where the murder took place. With first degree murder, specifically, some may try to get the charged dropped down to a charge with less severe penalties and consequences, such as with manslaughter or second degree murder. Second degree murder is different from first degree murder in the way that it does not include premeditation. The murderer fully intends to kill their victim, but they didn’t have the planning that first degree murder consists of. Another type of murder is voluntary manslaughter which includes the “heat of the moment” altercations where someone may let their emotions get the best of them, causing them to act out in a way that ends the life of the other party.
In a murder trial, having an experienced Huntington Beach murder defense lawyer who knows the California criminal justice system intimately through years of practice is even more crucial than with other criminal offenses. Contact the Johnson Criminal Law Group by phone at (949) 622-5522, where someone is available 24/7 for an initial consultation or through an online message today.