A premeditated murder is one that involves some degree of planning.
In California, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought and without legal justification. This relatively straightforward definition seems simple — but its terms can be confusing. For example does “malice aforethought” mean that the murder was planned?
Malice aforethought refers to a defendant’s mental state during a killing, such as having an intent to kill or an intent to cause great bodily injury. While premeditation can indicate malice aforethought (for example, a person planning to bring a gun to a knife fight), the two are not the same thing. So what exactly is premeditation — and what does it mean for a California murder charge?
According to a murder defense lawyer Los Angeles CA, a premeditation is a specific intent to commit a crime before the crime occurs. This intent does not have to last for any particular length of time — even a few seconds of this intent is sufficient to be considered premeditation.
In California, first degree murder is any murder that is premeditated and deliberate, or murder that is committed during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony (known as a felony murder). For premeditated and deliberate murder, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to kill another person, and that before this occurred, he or she had time to consider the wrongfulness of the act. Premeditation and deliberation can happen in just a few seconds.
For example, consider a scenario where a person gets into a bar fight. He leaves the bar in anger, and goes to his truck to get a gun from his glove compartment. In the time it takes to go get the gun and go back into the bar, he has formed the intent to kill the other person. If he then shoots and kills the other person, he can be charged with first degree murder. This is because there was premeditation and deliberation in going out to the truck to get a gun during a bar fight.
As a murder defense lawyer Los Angeles CA can explain, premeditation can occur in any number of ways. A person can plan a murder involving poisoning their unfaithful spouse, or they may hire a hitman to kill a romantic rival. The key is that there is at least some element of planning and deliberation where a person forms an intent to commit the offense — whether it be murder or some other crime.
California criminal law can be complex, with laws that are constantly evolving. Having an experienced murder defense lawyer Los Angeles CA can make the difference in putting together a strong defense and finding yourself forced to take an unfavorable plea deal. The Chambers Law Firm will investigate the facts of your case and thoroughly analyze all potential defenses. We will work with you to help you obtain the best possible results given the facts and circumstances of your case. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today at 855-397-0210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.