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How to Avoid Life in Prison if Charged with Attempted Murder

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Aug 19, 2022

Many people are charged with California Penal Code 664/187 attempted murder in Los Angeles County and surrounding counties.  If you or a family member is under investigation or already charged with attempted murder, you must hire the best defense attorney you can find.

California Penal Code 664 PC defines the incomplete crime of attempt. Penal Code 187 PC defines the crime of murder as either a first or second degree.  Thus, attempted murder under California law is known as 664/187 PC, which combines the crime of attempt and murder.

If it's attempted premeditated murder, you are facing a sentence of 15 to life at a minimum, meaning if you go to jury trial and lose, the judge has to give you at least a sentence of 15 to life in prison.

How to Avoid Life in Prison if Charged with Attempted Murder

Unfortunately, many people don't realize how severe these attempted murder cases are.  First off, it's a million dollars bail.  It used to be $500,000.00.  The judges have decided that these attempted murder cases are so severe that they will jack the bail up to a million dollars.

I can tell you right now that if you're charged with attempted murder, which involves premeditation and deliberation, and you're facing 15 to life in prison, your bail will be set at a million dollars.  If it involves more than one victim, it will be set at a million dollars for each victim you are charged with trying to kill.

Now you know how severe these attempted murder cases are in Los Angeles and all surrounding counties.

Anybody charged with attempted murder wants to get the best possible attorney they can and try to fit their case into some of these examples I'll give you where you can avoid going to prison for life. Our California criminal defense lawyers will take a more detailed look at the law below.

The Killing Was Not Premeditated

The first example is that you did not premeditate or deliberate on it, and it's just a regular run-of-the-mill attempted murder.  Then you can argue that you should not go for a life sentence.

You've got to make your facts such that you did not plan the killing.  Sometimes these attempted murder cases come up very quickly on a sudden quarrel or argument.  That might be an argument to get you out of the realm of going to prison for life. Attempted murder means someone tried but failed to kill a human being. The prosecutors must prove two main factors:

  • You took a direct step toward killing somebody, and
  • You had the intent to kill them, called malice aforethought.

No Intent to Kill Someone

Another argument I always used regarding an attempted murder allegation: I was not trying to kill the person.  A perfect example is a situation many years ago during the riots in Los Angeles, where a truck driver was attacked and viciously beaten.

They charged the individual with attempted murder.  He was found not guilty, and people could not figure out why.  The reason is that he broke off the attack on his own.

He stopped.  The person was still alive and stopped, so how can you argue that there's an attempted murder if the individual didn't try to finish the job?  It sounds brutal and callous, but that's an argument to be made to avoid a lifetime in prison. There are two different types of PC 664/187 attempted murder charges:

  • First-degree attempted murder is when someone plans on killing somebody, premeditates it, sets up a plan, and then tries to kill them but falls short, and they don't kill that person.
  • Second-degree attempted murder is where there is no premeditation and deliberation, such as a sudden quarrel in the heat of passion, and they decide to try to kill them at that moment.

Killing Was an Accident

Another great example is a case I had where two guys were fighting over some drugs in a car.  One guy has a gun; they start wrestling for it; my client gets the weapon and shoots the person once, and the person is shot in the leg, but my client still has the gun.

Defending Attempted Murder Charges in Los Angeles

He flees in a car, and the prosecutors charge him with Penal Code 664/187 PC attempted murder.  I'm like, wait a minute.  Why wouldn't he reshoot him if he was trying to kill the guy?

Why would you have the guy shot in the leg if you had planned to kill him all along?  Of course, the prosecutors greedily try to charge premeditation and deliberation in that scenario.

They're never going to win that in a jury trial and probably aren't getting the attempted murder charge, so we were able to get the case reduced to assault with a deadly weapon.

The co-defendant who drove the person away was also charged with attempted murder, which was idiotic because she had nothing to do with the shooting, and there was a strong argument that she didn't even know what was happening.  We got a Penal Code Section 32, which is an accessory after the fact.

So, my client went from looking at life in prison to something different.  So, that's another excellent way to make a strong argument in an attempted murder case that you shouldn't go to jail for life.

Another way, of course, is to say that you're innocent.  You're not the one who committed the attempted murder.  You're not the shooter, the stabber, whatever the case. To evaluate that, we've got to look at the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, see what evidence the prosecutors have, and see if they can prove an attempted murder case.

What Are the Related Crimes?

Numerous related charges could be filed in addition to, or instead of, Penal Code 664/187 attempted murder, such as:

Contact Criminal Defense Professionals

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of some examples of when you can avoid life in an attempted murder case.  I can tell you right now that these are the most severe cases, next to murder cases.

Criminal Defense Professionals in California

I put them in the same category, and you will need the best criminal defense attorney by your side because the prosecutors and police will assign their best people to these cases. After all, life is either snuffed out if it's a murder case or someone could have gotten killed in an attempted murder case.

So, you've come to the right place.  I've been doing this now for nearly 30 years.  I worked for the District Attorney's office in the early 1990s, and then I worked for a Superior Court judge as his research attorney.

Then finally, in 1994, I put out my shingle, and I've been defending attempted murder cases in Los Angeles county. The list goes on and on to all surrounding counties, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Orange county, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

In these types of cases, you need the best.  You've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Make a call to Ron Hedding.  Set up the meeting.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case review by phone or use the contact form.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.