A homicide conviction can destroy your life and undermine the lives of your loved ones. In fact, your employment, housing, and personal reputation can all be adversely affected when you face such charges, even if you are not guilty. If you have been charged with this crime, you need a San Diego homicide defense lawyer on your side. We understand how high the stakes are, and we will diligently protect your rights at every step of the way. Homicide cases are complex, often more so than cases involving assault or other violent crimes, and having the right attorney on your side can make a difference in whether you are able to move on successfully with your life.Constructing a Defense to a Homicide Charge
Homicide is an umbrella term that covers all situations in which one person takes the life of another person. Under California Penal Code 187, the legal definition of homicide is the “unlawful taking of a human life by another with malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought exists when there is an intention to kill another person, or the defendant’s actions manifest a reckless disregard for human life. The intention to kill can be express (such as pulling a trigger) or implied (such as threatening to kill someone).
California recognizes first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and felony murder. First-degree murder is reserved for especially heinous crimes that generally show a “willful, deliberate, and premeditated” intent to kill. There are a few types of murder cases, however, in which the prosecutor can charge a defendant with first-degree murder without needing to prove that the murder was “willful, deliberate, and premeditated.” For example, this proof is not required when the killing is committed with an explosive device, weapon of mass destruction, or poison.
Second-degree murder does not involve premeditation, but it does involve malice aforethought. In other words, second-degree murder is any willful unlawful killing that is not deliberate and premeditated, so it cannot be classified as first-degree murder. A homicide defense attorney can explain to San Diego residents the difference between first-degree and second-degree murder in greater detail.
California’s felony murder rule makes a person and his or her accomplices guilty of murder if someone dies during the commission of certain specified felonies. For example, if a person runs over and kills a pedestrian while committing the felony of grand theft auto, that person would likely be charged with felony murder. The felony murder rule applies even if the death is inadvertent. Felonies that can trigger the rule include:
Just because you have been charged with homicide does not mean that you are guilty. Homicide can be lawful or unlawful, depending on the circumstances. There may be a number of defenses that may be applicable in your case, and a San Diego homicide defense attorney can help you explore them. For example, it may be lawful in certain cases to use self-defense if you were not the aggressor in a situation involving lethal force. If a jury determines that a homicide was lawful, the defendant will be found not guilty.
Other California defenses that may be applicable in any given case include insanity, defense of others, an argument that the death was accidental, constitutional violations by the police or prosecutors, or an alibi that shows that the defendant could not have committed the crime because they were somewhere else at the time. We can look into the facts of your case and determine which defenses might apply.Retain a Knowledgeable Homicide Defense Lawyer in the San Diego Area
Homicide is arguably the most serious criminal charge that a person can face. If you or someone close to you has been charged with this offense, it is important to hire a knowledgeable criminal attorney who understands this area of the law. With nearly 30 years of experience, Roseline D. Feral can provide skilled and personalized representation to defendants in cities such as Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. You can contact us online or call us at 619-232-1010. You can also reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191. We also represent people facing charges of domestic violence or other violent crimes.