San Diego County Homicide Defense Attorney
Regardless of any other element, the killing of a person is called homicide. However, not all homicides are considered crimes. A homicide that involves a criminal act of murder or manslaughter is a crime. But a homicide that involves self-defense or state-sanctioned execution of a convicted criminal is not a crime.
According to California State Laws, a criminal homicide must include some of the necessary elements such as willful intent to kill, negligence, intent to cause bodily harm, premeditation, felony murder, or indifference to human life. Moreover, it can be classified as either first-degree murder, second-degree murder, capital murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or vehicular manslaughter. A homicide that is not a crime is deemed a legal homicide.
Call Lee Law Group at (619) 349-1588 to get a free consultation.
Let us dig deeper into each legal definition of the types of homicide in the state of California.
First-degree murder is categorized as the more serious murder that involves heavier sentences. To call a homicide a first-degree murder, the accused premeditation must be proved. The intent to kill must be willful and deliberate. Also, the prosecutor must establish that the defendant demonstrated extreme indifference to an individual’s survival.
A murder shall fall under first-degree if the defendant:
- Used explosive devices, poison, armor-piercing ammunition, or a weapon of mass destruction to kill someone or a group of people;
- Is proven to torture the victim prior to the killing;
- Committed murder along with a felony crime such as burglary, robbery, rape, kidnapping, and other specific felony crimes.
If a person accused of first-degree murder becomes convicted, he will be sentenced with 25 years up to a lifetime of imprisonment in state prison. Furthermore, if the court considers the murder a hate crime (involving hate towards the victim’s sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender, or race), the convicted shall be sentenced with life imprisonment without parole.
Second-degree murder is a lesser type of homicide. It also involves the willful intent to kill a person but not planned—without premeditation. Some of the second-degree murder circumstances include:
- Shooting a gun (due to heat of the moment) in a setting crowded with people wherein a gunshot kills someone;
- Throwing sucker punches to a drunk person who hits his head and eventually dies as a result.
Second-degree murders also have the rule of felony murder. However, it is not as heinous as that of first-degree murder crimes. When a death occurs as a consequence of an inherently dangerous felony crime, it is second-degree murder. Also, any murder not specified in first-degree is categorized under second-degree murder.
A person convicted of second-degree murder receives a sentence of 15 years to a lifetime of imprisonment in state prison, yet with the possibility of punishment modifications based on 1) whether the convicted person has an existing criminal record apart from the murder; 2) whether the convicted person used firearm out of a vehicle to kill the victim; 3) whether the victim was a law enforcement officer.
In San Diego County, CA, there is a third type of murder, the capital murder. These are crimes performed in special circumstances. There are 20 circumstances in which capital murder can be classified. Here are some of them:
- Murder to obtain monetary gain;
- Murder to prevent a witness from testifying;
- Murder done to a law enforcement officer or a public servant (EMT, police, judge);
- Murder as a hate crime;
- Murder in the interests of a street gang.
For a person convicted of capital murder, life imprisonment without parole and capital punishment may be provided. Death sentence or execution in California occurs through the use of a lethal injection. Although it is conducted unusually, only 13 times since 1972, it is still possible.
Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful, willful, and deliberate killing of a person without forethought or premeditation. This can occur “in the heat of the moment.” The criminal activity was only triggered by an aggravating or offensive scenario and a life-and-death situation.
The person convicted of voluntary manslaughter will be punished with three (3), six (6), or eleven (11) years in state prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is the opposite of voluntary manslaughter. In this type of homicide, the execution of a person did not involve any malice or intention to kill but conducted without any conscious regard for human life.
California State Laws defined involuntary manslaughter as death that happened during the act of committing a non-felony crime, a legal act that carries a high risk of bodily harm or, worse, death. It happens when a defendant neglects to act with caution. This type of murder is punishable by two (2), three (3), or four (4) years of imprisonment in state prison.
Vehicular manslaughter is the act of killing a person while driving. It can be 1) an unlawful maneuver yet non-felony; 2) a legal act that involves a high risk of bodily injury or death; 3) deliberately provoking an accident to obtain financial gain.
Considered as a “wobbler,” vehicular manslaughter can either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is a simple crime that is punishable by a year in state prison. On the other hand, a felony is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
Consult with a Homicide Defense Attorney
Being charged with homicide in San Diego County can be confusing, frustrating, and worse, depressing. You need a homicide defense attorney who will guide you in counteracting the accusation against you. You need a legal expert who will walk you through the law and represent you in any California court. Defenses of homicide include self-defense, mistaken identity, or in defense of another person.
To discover and utilize the most effective homicide defense for your case, call (619) 349-1588 and book a free consultation with Lee Law Group’s homicide defense attorney now!