Homicide is the most serious offense you can be charged with. Few things are more frightening, confusing, and intimidating than being accused of killing another person. It can be incredibly tempting to talk about it with someone else – either helping yourself to understand what occurred, or perhaps trying to explain your version of events before it spirals beyond control. Exercise your right to remain silent! If you have been arrested or accused of homicide, murder, or manslaughter the most important things you must know are:
- DO NOT speak to the police
- DO NOT speak to the media
- DO NOT speak to the prosecution
- DO NOT speak to the victim’s family
- DO NOT speak to friends, neighbors, or colleagues about the facts of the case
In fact, DO NOT share the details of your case (or your charges) with anyone – even with your own family. The stakes in a homicide case are extremely high. In many instances, you are facing life in prison. You need to take every move seriously as you can be assured the prosecution will. The best move you can make is retaining an experienced California homicide lawyer prepared to vigorously defend against your charges. No matter which category of homicide you have been charged with, the San Diego based Law Office of David P. Shapiro is ready to defend you each step of the way.
Categories of Homicide Charges
Homicide is a broad term. If you have been charged with homicide, you could be facing any of the following charges:
- Murder in the First Degree
- Murder in the Second Degree
- Felony Murder
- Voluntary, Involuntary, or Vehicular Manslaughter
Which type of homicide offense you have been charged with will have a significant impact on your case. the wide range of the possible outcomes you are facing will all vary based on the state of the evidence against you, the specific charges filed, and the quality of your representation. The two major categories in homicide cases are charges of murder and manslaughter.
Murder is the most serious homicide charge, broken up into three (3) general subcategories:
1: Murder in the First Degree
First Degree Murder charges are the most serious murder charges, carrying some of the heaviest penalties possible under California law. For a murder to be proven to occur in the first degree, the murder must have been:
- Premeditated – there is no minimum time frame for premeditation. Even if only for a moment before the act occurred, prior thought can qualify as premeditation.
- Deliberate – to be convicted of murder in the first degree, it must be proven the homicide occurred as a deliberate act – not the result of an accident.
- Driven by malice – a murder in the first degree must also be motivated by some type of malice.
A first-degree murder would include some level of planning and malice aforethought and a voluntary decision to act.
An example of first degree (premeditated) murder would include lying in wait for a victim to return, planning the murder out before acting.
2: Murder in the Second Degree
Murder in the second-degree must meet two of the three components of murder in first-degree, but lack one crucial detail – murder in the second degree is a murder committed without premeditation. Murders in the second degree are sometimes popularly referred to as “murder of passion”, as they generally occur without forethought, driven by the moment.
The most common example of second degree murder is an argument unexpectedly escalating to violence resulting in death.
3: Felony Murder
Felony murders are unique from the other two forms of murder. A felony murder does not need to include premeditation, malice, or intent. For a felony murder to occur a homicide must occur during the commission of another felony. Even if the death was accidental, you could be charged with felony murder.
Example: During the commission of a home invasion, the surprised homeowner falls down the stairs, dying from their injuries.
In California homicide cases, you may not always be charged with murder. In many situations without certain elements, manslaughter charges are filed instead.
1: Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person, without premeditation.
2: Involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter is a downgraded charge from voluntary manslaughter, lacking any premeditation or intent to kill completely.
3: Vehicular Manslaughter
Vehicular manslaughter charges are used to prosecute those accused of killing another person because of unsafe or negligent use of a motor vehicle. Vehicular manslaughter charges may often be linked to DUI offenses.
Homicide charges are numerous, complicated, and come with severe consequences for those who get convicted. If you have been accused of any homicide offense it is critical you contact a lawyer who is experienced enough to know how to effectively defend you against such serious charges.
Defending Against Homicide Charges
The police and prosecution will investigate, intimidate, and pursue you with all their resources. If you have been accused of homicide you need an excellent criminal defense attorney on your side to refute those allegations and repair the damage done to your name. A murder conviction will have serious consequences, including a high probability of spending the rest of your life behind bars. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your future to do everything possible to defend against your murder or manslaughter charges.
We are here to listen, understand the circumstances surrounding your case, and provide answers to your questions. Don’t delay your defense – call 619-295-3555 today and schedule your free, confidential, consultation.