Murder, Homicide, and Violent Crimes

If you’re facing murder charges, you’re facing the most serious consequences in our judicial system. That’s why you need the very best attorney you can get.

A homicide is any death of a person caused by another individual, and the justice system draws distinctions between three large subcategories: intentional murder, manslaughter and justifiable homicide. Murder refers to cases in which a client is accused of intentionally killing the victim, and manslaughter applies to those instances in which the person is accused of acting recklessly, negligently or with a wanton disregard for human life. Justifiable homicides are those in which people are considered justified in defending themselves or others.

First-degree murder, the most serious type of murder in California, applies to instances where the victim was killed in one of the following ways:

  • By using a destructive device or explosive weapon of mass destruction, armor-piercing ammunition or poison
  • By lying in wait or using torture
  • By killing in a willful, deliberate and premeditated manner
  • By killing during a felony in which the death of another is a foreseeable consequence

California also recognizes capital murder, which is punishable by the death penalty. By statute, there are more than 20 scenarios that make a first-degree murder a death penalty-eligible offense. Second-degree murder is also recognized in those situations where the person is accused of intentionally killing the victim, but not in a manner that was premeditated.

California law also recognizes three types of manslaughter:

  • Voluntary manslaughter — Voluntary manslaughter applies to instances in which individuals kill victims spontaneously or in the heat of passion, such as during a sudden and intense fight.
  • Involuntary manslaughter — Voluntary manslaughter applies to situations in which someone kills a victim without malice and without intent to kill, but with a conscious disregard for human life.
  • Vehicular manslaughter —Vehicular manslaughter laws apply to drivers who kill people while driving in an unlawful manner, during the commission of lawful acts that may produce unlawful deaths.