Attempted Murder - Penal Code 664/187 PC
When it comes to attempted murder cases under California Penal Code Section 664/187 that are being filed across LA County, it is imperative that you have a good criminal defense attorney who has the experience to deal with these cases. Over the course of the past twenty-five years, I've been defending clients of mine that are charged with attempted murder cases in the LA courts. I know the other possible charges you could be charged with instead of attempted murder.
One of the most crucial things that the prosecutors have to prove in an attempted murder case is that the defendant had the specific intent to kill the alleged victim because without this element being proved, an attempted murder charge cannot stand.
Intent to Kill Another Person
So, when you're evaluating whether or not a person had the specific intent to kill another person, you really have to look at their actions, look at the circumstances of what happened, see if there are any defenses associated with the case, and see if their actions really show that they intended to kill the individual.
For example, if one person attacks another person and seriously injures that person, but during the course of the attack decides to break the attack off because the other person obviously cannot fight back for example, that's probably not an attempted murder case, because if they really intended to kill them, then they would have continued their attack until they felt that they were dead.
In other situations, just the act of whatever the defendant does makes it clear that they intended to kill the other person.
For example, if somebody takes a gun and fires it directly at a person, even if they miss them, there's a good argument by the prosecutors that that particular person intended to kill the other person, and then they would have a strong argument for an attempted murder case.
What Are Some Defenses Of Attempted Murder?
In California, when it comes to a violent crime case of an attempted murder case, one of the defenses that can be used is what we call “intoxication or diminished capacity.” Meaning if you were so drunk or you were so high on some sort of an intoxicant that you really can't form the specific intent to kill – in order words, you really can't think and rationalize about killing another person, then that certainly could be a defense to an attempted murder case.
Intoxication and people who are voluntarily getting drunk are usually never a defense in California. In other words, we're not going to let people get away with committing these serious crimes just because they decided to get drunk. But attempted murder is one of those crimes that you can use as a defense of intoxication and say listen; I was so drunk I don't even remember – I blacked out – I don't remember exactly what happened.
If you can prove that – you obviously have to have witnesses and circumstances, then you would certainly have an argument that you could not form the intent to kill and, therefore, you cannot be convicted of attempted murder.
Another defense to an attempted murder case is self-defense. In other words, if you become involved in some sort of a physical fight with another person, and just because you get the better of the other person, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should be charged and convicted of attempted murder.
Also, I've seen people firing weapons at other people, and just because one person was a better shot and hit the other person, now, all of a sudden, that particular person is charged with attempted murder. That really is not the test. That's not the way that things should work.
Obviously, we don't want people firing guns at each other in society, but by the same token, if somebody is firing a gun at you and you fire back, you certainly have an argument that you were trying to defend yourself.
So, when it comes to defenses in attempted murder cases across LA county, it's really going to be centered around the facts of the case, what happened, and who did what. It's not just hand-to-hand combat or guns. Knives can also be involved. Cars can be involved.
Having done this for twenty-five years, there's a whole host of different circumstances that can present themselves, and really what it boils down to is, would a jury believe that you intended to kill the other person in an unlawful manner?
That unlawful manner part has to do with, wait a minute. What about the defendant's version of what happened? What about if the other party threatened the person? What about if the other party used force against you, and you had to defend yourself?
That's when you come in, we sit down and go over everything, and we can really talk about the defenses and get down to the nitty-gritty of whether or not this is an attempted murder case.
What Are Some Lesser Charges In Attempted Murder Cases?
A lot of times, what I see, the prosecutors are filing an attempted murder case – the person is looking at 15 to live in prison. The prosecutors, I think, do that a lot, so they can have a lot of power negotiation-wise to be able to say to the defendant, listen, you take the deal that we offer, or we're going to go after you for attempted murder.
We don't care. If you lose in a jury trial you're finished. You're gone for 15 to life. I mean, I see that mentality all the time with the prosecutors, even though they don't say it that way, you know what they mean when they say, listen, if you don't take our deal, we're going to charge your client with attempted murder or your client could get convicted of attempted murder.
All kinds of lesser charges can be substituted for the attempted murder a jury can find after a jury trial.
For example, assault with a deadly weapon is certainly something that I've seen charged. We can go on-and-on with the different lesser charges; we just need to know the facts of the case.
In other words, you can't just make up a lesser charge – it actually has to fit the facts of the case. So, sometimes in these attempted murder cases, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and it's up to your criminal defense attorney to get to it and to make sure that you get the right result.
That's why when I sit down with everybody and talk about the case, I encourage them to be honest with me. Tell me exactly what happened. We're in my office. No one else can hear us.
We have the attorney/client privilege, so you can tell me whatever you need to tell me without fear that I'm going to tell anybody else, and once I have the information, now I can really set to work and figure out the best strategy.
What can you do to help, what am I going to do to get you the best result, and what types of things can we bring to the table with the prosecutors and judges that can actually make a difference?
For example, a mitigation package, character letters, do some investigation and show them some of the things that they haven't taken into consideration, because a lot of times the police do a rush-to-judgment case and they just make decisions that the person is guilty and they just grab all the evidence that they can that shows they're guilty, without grabbing any evidence that says, wait a minute, maybe there's something else going on here. See related: Justifiable homicide in California.
What Makes The Best Attempted Murder Defense Lawyer?
I've been handling attempted murder cases now for 30 years, and I think what makes the best attorney to defend these cases is (1) someone who has the experience and (2) someone who knows how to both win the cases and negotiate the cases.
Your attorney must have experience dealing with attempted murder cases because most of the time, if you're charged with attempted murder, and they're saying that it's premeditated and deliberated, you're in a position where you're facing 15 to life.
Nobody wants to go to prison for 15 to life because the sentence is so complex that you may never come out of custody again. That's why it's crucial to get the best possible criminal defense attorney that knows how to handle attempted murder cases.
One of the first attack points in these cases is to show that you or the loved one you're trying to get the attorney for did not intend to kill another person. So, if they attacked the person, shot at the person, stabbed the person, but they broke off the attack, then there's undoubtedly enough argument that they were not attempting to kill anyone.
Instead, there could be an assault with a deadly weapon charge that could be added, or maybe, if the person was defending themselves, they could argue that there's self-defense, and therefore, they can't be charged with attempted murder.
Of course, another defense in these cases is that you're not the perpetrator. You didn't do it, and they can't prove that you did it.
So, we really have to look at the facts and circumstances particular to your situation before we decide whether to fight the case, try to negotiate the case, put a mitigation package together for the prosecutors, or what the best strategy is. So, sometimes we need to investigate.
Sometimes we need to do the preliminary hearing and fight and attack the prosecutor's case to damage it so horrifically that they either dismiss it or they offer you something less than attempted murder.