A murder accusation in California is a serious charge. If convicted, the accused will certainly end up in a maximum-security prison, which is reserved for the most dangerous felon convicts in the state.

Murder is a violent felony that is applied to California’s three-strikes law. Apart from harsh penalties, you may end up with enhanced punishment if a criminal record already exists. Even before law enforcers question you, you need to be careful what you say, as those words can be used against you in court. Following your arrest, your best bet would be to talk to an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

What Are the Types of Murder Charges in California?

Murder is the most aggravated type of homicide where the accused person had a premeditated intention (malice) to kill another person or intention to cause significant bodily harm to another. In California, murder is categorized into three:

First Degree

This is the premeditated killing of another, whether it happened instantly or was a long deliberation. These situations will also lead to murder in the first degree charges:

  • Poisoning the person
  • Killing with a weapon of mass destruction or explosive device
  • Torturing
  • Lying in wait for the victim
  • The accidental killing of another person while committing a serious or violent felony

Capital Murder

This is a first-degree type of murder committed under special circumstances. These special circumstances include:

  • Killing a police officer, firefighter, juror, judge, or elected official
  • Killing multiple victims
  • Gang killing
  • Killing based on a victim’s color, religion, race, or original home country
  • Killing a witness to stop them from testifying

Second Degree

Murder in the second degree is the act of killing someone that was willful but wasn’t premeditated or deliberate or planned ahead of time. A good example is shooting in a crowded street without the intention of killing anyone, but someone dies ultimately.

This charge may also be brought when you punch someone so hard that they fall and hit their head and the injury is proven fatal. Or a person with previous DUIs drinks and drives again, ultimately causing an accident and killing someone.

What’s The Punishment of Murder in California?

If convicted, here are the penalties for murder charges in California:

Capital Murder

This is the most serious murder charge under California law. Since the death penalty is legal in California, it can be applied in this type of charge. The punishment is either life in prison with no parole or capital punishment (gas chamber or lethal injection).

In 2019, the governor announced a temporary moratorium on executions. You will need a skilled and experienced Orange County violent crimes lawyer to fight for your rights and defend you against such a penalty.

First Degree Murder

A conviction carries up to 25 years in state prison. If it’s determined to have been a hate crime, the judge may impose life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

Second Degree Murder

The minimum punishment for second-degree murder is 15 years in state prison. Get in touch with your Laguna Hills violent crimes lawyer to fight these stiff penalties.

Additional Punishment

California murder laws may also subject you to these penalties apart from the prison sentences:

  • You might get an additional 10-25 years in prison if you used a firearm to commit the murder.
  • You will get a ‘strike’ on your record per California’s three-strikes rule
  • Victim restitution
  • Permanent withdrawal of your right to own or possess a firearm
  • A maximum fine of $10,000
  • Additional sentencing for the gang-related offense

Civic Consequences

You will likely face a wrongful death suit if you’re accused of murder. The surviving family may sue you in a civil court and demand compensation.

This can cost your family millions of dollars. You need to take action and talk to an Orange County murder defense attorney to defend yourself against these harsh consequences.

What Factors Can Aggravate a Murder Charge?

A first or second-degree murder is already serious by itself. Having aggravating factors can make the sentences longer. They include:

  • If the alleged murder involved poison or an explosive material
  • If you have a previous murder conviction
  • If accompanying crimes like rape and robbery were present
  • If it’s determined that you are a gang member
  • If torture was involved

What’s The Punishment for Attempted Murder?

If it is believed that you wanted to kill a person, but the victim ultimately survived, you will be charged with attempted murder. Some deliberate attempts to kill someone may include stabbing, strangling, shooting or poisoning.

Attempted murder is a felony that will need an Orange County violent crimes lawyer to defend you. The penalties for attempted murder in California are typically half of what you’d have received had you been successful in completing the crime. If facing this charge, you need to preserve your freedom with the help of skilled California criminal defense lawyers.

What’s The Punishment for DUI Murder?

A DUI murder is killing someone while drunk driving. This is often a second-degree murder carrying a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Will I Be Punished for Aiding a Suicide?

Helping someone with the means to kill themselves is aiding suicide, which is a felony carrying up to 3 years in prison. But if you kill the person at their request, that would be murder.

Protect Your Legal Rights by Working with A Legal Professional

Every murder charge is complicated, with decades of case law addressing the specific charge. You don’t have to feel confused, helpless, and desperate. You can take charge of your situation by getting a knowledgeable murder defense lawyer in Orange County.

Your attorney will help you navigate the criminal justice system and craft a proper defense strategy specifically for you. From self-defense, to false accusation, to lack of intent to kill, to unlawful arrest or insufficient evidence, a seasoned attorney can help you fight the prosecution.
Don’t try to defend yourself. Preserve your rights by getting in touch with us immediately.