In general, most people recognize that the word “murder” refers to the act of killing someone. The term “murder” has a precise legal meaning under the law, with several degrees attached to it. The sort of murder with which a person is accused has a substantial impact on the potential sentence they could get if found guilty.
Read on to learn more about murder charges in general and second-degree murder in particular. If you are facing this or another serious criminal charge, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 for a legal consultation.
What is murder?
Murder is the willful, unlawful killing of a person or unborn child. Malice aforethought, in the words of a murder defense attorney, is “doing an act with wanton disregard for human life, that involves a high degree of probability that it will result in death.” In other words, you probably acted with malice aforethought if you did something that would almost certainly result in death, like firing a gun into a crowded place.
First degree murder
A murder that is committed in the first degree must be purposeful, deliberate, or premeditated, carried out using a destructive device, a weapon of mass destruction, armor-piercing ammunition, poison, laying in wait, or torture, or committed while a significant criminal crime is being committed (felony murder rule). Second-degree murder is the classification for all other crimes.
Second degree murder
Second-degree killings are willful, much as first-degree homicides. They are not, however, planned or deliberate. For instance, second degree murder may be charged if a person who has received multiple DUI convictions drives while intoxicated and causes an accident that results in a fatality. Similar to the last example, second degree murder charges could be brought against someone who aggressively knocks a weaker person to the ground, forcing them to hit their skull.
Some felony killings are prosecuted as second degree murders, according to a Los Angeles, California murder defense attorney. Second-degree felony murder charges will be brought against a person who dies while committing a felony that is inherently dangerous but is not covered by the first-degree felony murder rule.
Murder in the second degree is a felony. It is punishable by between 15 years and life in state prison, while the specific sentence will depend on the circumstances of the case and the criminal history of the defendant.
Under California law, there are a variety of possible second degree murder defenses. You can build a defense based on the facts of your case with the assistance of a knowledgeable murder defense attorney. For instance, if you had a good reason to fear that you were about to die, suffer serious physical harm, or become a victim of another violent crime, you could be able to assert self defense. Your murder defense attorney may file a motion to suppress the evidence against you and have the charges against you dropped or reduced if it was obtained by an unlawful search or seizure.
A top-notch criminal defense attorney is necessary for the successful defense of a serious charge like second-degree murder. Chambers Law Firm has experience resolving the most severe criminal accusations in California. To uphold your freedom and rights, we will work tirelessly. For a free initial consultation, call us at 714-760-4088 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.