I can tell you that all the marbles are on the line regarding California Penal Code 187 PC murder cases. If you or your loved one loses the case, they'll probably never come out of prison again.
So, the answer to that question is, you want, in my opinion, an attorney you paid for, somebody whom you have researched and can see that they know what they're doing.
One who has the experience and has fought these cases and has been successful versus taking a chance that some public defender is assigned to your case, that either doesn't have the experience that your loved one needs or doesn't get along with your loved one.
That's one of the biggest things I talk about when I talk to people about hiring an attorney. You have to have an attorney you feel comfortable with – that you like, that you respect, and that you know I will fight for you because you paid for that attorney. You hired them to do their best to defend your loved one.
So, in my opinion, if you or a loved one is charged with murder, all of the marbles are on the line, and you're facing life in prison, you've got to get your attorney.
You'll have the opportunity to talk to that attorney, sit down with them, see what they think about the case, and see the credentials they have to fight your case. Your attorney is going, to be honest with you.
They're going to tell you whether or not you have a chance to win, whether or not it's a good idea to fight the case, or try to find a resolution with the prosecutors.
You've got to have invaluable experience. You've got to have that attorney that is looking out for you or your loved one in helping you make the best possible decision – somebody that you paid for, somebody that you feel comfortable with, like they're going to do everything they can to help you, to fight for you and to get the possible result for you.
What Does the Law Say?
The homicide law in California separates the act of killing someone into murder or manslaughter and first and second degree.
Penal Code 187 PC defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought.”
First-degree murder includes all premeditated killings and felony murder, where somebody dies during the commission of a rape, robbery, carjacking, or another serious crime.
If convicted of first-degree murder, you face 25 years to life in prison unless the killing involved lying in wait, torture, or another special circumstance. You then face:
- life in prison without parole, or
- capital punishment.
Second-degree murder is murder with no premeditation, and a conviction carries a sentence of 15 years to life.
Manslaughter under California Penal Code 192 PC is a less severe form of homicide than murder. Penal Code 192(a) voluntary manslaughter is an unplanned, heat-of-passion killing, and the penalties include up to 11 years in state prison.
Penal Code 192(b) involuntary manslaughter is an unintended death resulting from extremely risky behavior, called a “conscious disregard of human life.” In convicted, the penalties include up to four years in state prison.
Penal Code 192(c) vehicular manslaughter is unintentionally killing somebody in a car accident, and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, called a “wobbler.”
What distinguishes PC 187 murder from PC 192 manslaughter is malice. Murder requires malice, which is defined as:
- “The mental state of malice aforethought does not presuppose or require any ill will against a victim. When a defendant “with wanton disregard for human life, does an act involving a high degree of probability that it will result in death,' they acted with malice aforethought.”
First and second-degree murder both require malice (intent to kill), which can be express or implied. Malice is implied when:
- The killing was a result of an intentional act;
- The natural consequences of the act are dangerous to human life; and
- The killer knew the danger to human life, and they consciously disregarded it.
A Penal Code 187 PC murder conviction requires a prosecutor to prove all the elements of the crime listed in California Criminal Jury Instructions 520 that, include the following factors:
- The defendant caused the of another person or a fetus,
- The defendant acted with malice aforethought, and
- The defendant killed someone without lawful justification.
The self-defense laws in California allow killing someone in certain circumstances. For example, killing is justified homicide law when someone reasonably believes they or others are in imminent danger of the following:
- Getting killed,
- Suffering a great bodily injury, or
- Getting raped, robbed, or another serious crime.
California also has an “imperfect self-defense,” where someone kills based on an honest but unreasonable belief that they face imminent danger. This defense won't result in dismissing a PC 187 murder case but is usually used to reduce a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter.
What are the Related California Crimes?
Many related charges could be filed in addition to, or instead of, Penal Code 187 murder, including the following:
- Penal Code 187 PC – DUI Watson murder,
- Penal Code 664/187 PC – attempted murder,
- Penal Code 16100 PC – drive-by shooting,
- Penal Code 246 PC – shooting at inhabited dwelling or car,
- Penal Code 192(a) PC – voluntary manslaughter,
- Penal Code 653f PC – solicitation to commit a crime.
Murder Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
So, if you or a loved one is charged with murder and all of the marbles are on the line, and you need the best, look no further. You've come to the right place.
I've been doing this now for nearly 30 years. I've got a completely well-rounded structure as far as working for the District Attorney's office, working for a superior court judge, and working for people just like you since the 1990s, fighting these murder cases, being successful, negotiating these cases.
It depends on the case. It depends on the circumstances, and obviously, it depends on what my client wants.
That's what the best criminal defense attorneys do, and that's what you need if you or a loved one is charged with murder.
Could you pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding? I stand at the ready to help you.
The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case evaluation by phone or fill out the contact form.