Murder is the most serious crime known to man, and if you or a loved one is charged with murder, you want to get the best attorney possible. So, I thought I'd give some information regarding what I perceive as the best murder defense attorney since I've been handling murder cases now for 30 years. In California, murder charges can be filed in various forms discussed below.
Under Penal Code 187 PC, second-degree murder is a willful act but not deliberate, and there was no premeditation. For example, firing a weapon in the direction of a crowd of people and there was no intent to kill someone. Simply put, second-degree murder is any murder that doesn't fall under the category of first-degree murder.
First-degree murder charges are filed if the killing was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. In other words, the act was intentional, such as driving to someone's home with the specific intent to kill them. You could face first-degree murder charges if the killing involved a destructive device or explosive, or ammunition to penetrate metal or armor, using poison, or lying in wait.
Capital murder is first-degree murder with special circumstances that include a variety of situations:
- killing a police officer or firefighter;
- killing a prosecutor or judge;
- killing a witness to prevent testimony;
- killing someone based on their race or religion;
- Killing for the benefit of a gang or a drive-by shooting;
- Killing was for financial benefit;
- Killing multiple people.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.
What is the Felony Murder Rule?
Felony murder is killing someone while committing a dangerous felony crime. For instance, you shoot and kill the clerk while robbing a convenience store. The California felony murder rule was changed in 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown by signing Senate Bill 1437.
Under the prior law, an accomplice was charged with murder while committing a felony, even if the killing was an accident. To be charged with Penal Code 187 PC murder, they have to be the actual killer or intend to kill someone.
Investigation and Prosecution of Murder Cases
When it comes to investigating murder cases, I can tell you that they put the best law enforcement detectives on these types of cases. They also put the best prosecutors on the case to ensure they get the conviction.
When I say they, I'm talking about the entities, the District Attorney's office that prosecutes cases — the robbery/homicide detectives, the homicide detectives — these are who your defense attorney will be going up against, so obviously, you want to make sure you have the best criminal defense attorney.
You don't want the prosecutor to be better than your attorney, especially in a close case where you will take the case to trial. If the prosecutor is better, they've got more money because they've got the state's finances — it puts you or your loved one behind the eight ball as far as trying to beat the prosecutors in a murder trial.
Evaluating the Strength of Evidence in Murder Cases
Another significant factor to consider is whether or not it's the type of case that should go to trial. In other words, does the prosecutor/government have the evidence necessary to prove the PC 187 murder case?
Sometimes that's not a very easy thing to evaluate. Sometimes you need a criminal defense attorney who has been handling murder cases for years to look at the evidence and talk to your loved one.
If it's you that has the murder case, you need to sit down face to face with your attorney, go over the evidence and make some hard decisions. We need to decide whether or not it's the type of case you want to try to fight at a jury trial or if it's the type of case you want your attorney to mitigate and get a resolution for you that you could live with.
Sometimes that's not very easy in murder cases because if the prosecutors believe you have killed somebody, they're not going to be very nice when it comes to trying to resolve the case.
Experience is Crucial in Defending Murder Charges
But that's where somebody with experience comes in. I've been doing murder cases now for 30 years. I started out working for the DA's office, then I worked for a Superior Court judge, and in the early 1990s, I opened my criminal defense firm and have been trying murder cases ever since. So this means:
- I know how they're investigated;
- I know how they're prosecuted;
- I know how the District Attorney's hierarchy works;
- I know how to resolve a PC 187 murder case.
You have to know what it takes to get all of the best information to the prosecutors to see if the type of case can be resolved.
Sometimes, the prosecutors won't resolve a case when it comes to Penal Code 187 PC murder. They'll make some ridiculous offer that you might as well go to trial because even if you took the offer versus taking their deal, it pretty much ends up being the same thing.
How Can the Hedding Law Firm Help You?
So, if you or a loved one has a murder case, you need help, you're trying to find the best, get somebody like me who's done over 250 jury trials, who's handled countless murder cases, who has won cases all over Los Angeles County and surrounding counties. I've handled cases all over the place.
You want somebody with broad experience, someone who's the complete package, someone who knows the DA's office, knows how the judge deals with things, and of course, has been a criminal defense attorney for many years.
They are the best fighters because those individuals have the experience — have been put in the position of going up against the state and being successful. So, if you need the best, you've got a murder case, your loved one has a murder case, pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm, and we offer a free case consultation a (213) 542-0979 or fill out our contact form.