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What Is Attempted Murder Under California Law?

January 10, 2019

Even if you don’t actually kill someone, an attempt could result in serious consequences.

What Is Attempted Murder Under California Law?

Laws surrounding “attempts” are often confusing. After all, if you tried — but didn’t complete — a crime, how can you be charged in the same way that a person who actually committed a crime is? Yet for many crimes, the punishment for an “attempt” crime is often almost as harsh as that of the completed crime.

A prime example is “attempted murder.” In California, attempted murder occurs when a person intends to kill someone and takes a “direct step” towards killing that person, but the victim does not die. According to a murder defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA, attempted murder is a felony offense. It carries a potential punishment of anywhere from 5 to 9 years in state prison — but for attempted first-degree murder, the sentence is life in prison, with the possibility of parole.

So what exactly is attempted murder? First, it requires a direct step, which is something more than just planning, preparing or arranging a murder. For example, if a woman really wanted to kill her husband, and made lists of possible poisons that she could use to kill him, that wouldn’t be considered attempted murder — because she didn’t take a direct step towards killing him. However, if she purchased the poison, and then used it incorrectly (or if she put it in his food and he didn’t eat it), then that would likely result in an attempted murder charge.

Second, the person charged with attempted murder must have intended to kill the other person. If the woman in the example above was researching poisons that would make her husband sick — but not kill him — then she could not be charged with attempted murder because she lacked the intent to kill him. She might be charged with other crimes if she attempted to poison him, but without an intent to kill, she could not be charged with attempted murder.

Importantly, as long as the person charged with attempted murder intended to kill a person, it does not matter if they harmed someone else in the process. If the woman in the example above accidentally poisoned her husband’s friend instead, and he got sick as a result, she could still be charged with attempted murder because she intended to kill her husband — and was ineffective.

There are a number of defenses that a skilled murder defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA can use if a person is charged with attempted murder. For example, your attorney may be able to argue that you did not intend to kill anyone, or that you did not take a direct step towards killing anyone. Depending on the facts of the case, your murder defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA may be able to develop other defenses, such as that you were falsely accused.

If you have been charged with a crime, including attempted murder, the Chambers Law Firm is here for you. We will fight for you and your freedoms. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled murder defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA.

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