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California Criminal Defense Lawyers On Your Side

The crime of murder is consistently one of the most heavily prosecuted charges in the nation. This is the same in the state of California. Taking the life of another individual is a serious offense that legal authorities do not take lightly. Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another human being. If you are found guilty, you can receive harsh penalties including a life imprisonment sentence or even the death penalty.

Breakdown of the Law

Murder is defined under California Penal Code §187 as "the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice afterthought." The defendant has to possess the criminal intent to kill or another reason, depending on the degree of murder. Malice afterthought refers to the mental state that is fashioned before the act of murder.

This thinking can include the intent to kill, intent to cause death or serious harm, disregard to the consequences of the act, or intent to commit a felony that leads to death. There are various degrees of murder that are defined under §187, including:

  • First Degree Murder - The intentional, willful, or deliberate killing of another person
  • Second Degree Murder - The unintentional killing of another individual
  • Capital Murder - First degree murder that was committed under special circumstances
  • Felony Murder - The act of committing a felony that results in the murder of another person

Penalties and Sentencing

The sentencing or penalties for murder depend on the circumstances of the occurrence. Depending on which classification the crime is filed under, the penalties differ. Those who are found guilty of murder can be charged with a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. The ranges of sentences for the degrees of murder are:

  • First Degree Murder - 25 years to life or the death penalty
  • Second Degree Murder - 15 years to life
  • Capital Murder - Life in prison or the death penalty

There are other factors that can increase the minimum sentences, such as repeat offenses or the type of weapon used to commit the crime. When the punishment is a life imprisonment sentence, this means that there is no possibility of parole. The penalty for felony murder depends on the degree of murder that was committed and all circumstances of the felony.

Dedicated Representation

These cases can be frightening and cause severe stress for the individual charged with the crime of murder. If you have been falsely accused or jailed, we can work your case by interviewing defense witnesses, investigating the scene of the crime, and locating evidence that can provide defense to our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys at Rodriguez Lewis & Kahn are prepared to go to trial when necessary so that we can pursue a not guilty verdict. Contact a California criminal defense attorney from our firm today to receive dedicated legal representation.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.