Murder is a very serious charge and can completely alter your life. Hiring a murder attorney Fresno can help you fight the charges against murder.
murder attorney fresno

What is the Legal Definition of Murder?

The definition of murder under California law is “the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice aforethought.” Homicide is the killing of another person, whether lawful or unlawful. Murder is a type of homicide that is always unlawful. The difference between murder and manslaughter is that malice aforethought is involved with a murder. Malice aforethought means that:

  • The killing was an intentional act.
  • The action performed has natural consequences that are known to be dangerous to human life.
  • The action was performed deliberately and with conscious disregard for human life.

First-Degree Murder

There are three ways to be convicted of first-degree murder:

  • Murdering someone while:
    • Using a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, poison, or metal piercing ammunition.
    • Torturing someone or waiting for a person.
  • Murdering someone willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation.
  • Killing someone while committing:
    • Arson
    • Robbery
    • Burglary
    • Carjacking
    • Train Wrecking
    • Kidnapping
    • Mayhem
    • Torture
    • Rape
    • Unlawful acts of sodomy
    • Forcible acts of penetration
    • Lewd acts with a minor

If a person dies as a result of you committing one of the listed offenses, then you will be tried under the felony-murder rule.
A murder attorney Fresno can help you fight against the first-degree murder charges.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is any murder that was willful but not deliberate or premeditated. This crime can also be under the felony-murder on a case-to-case basis. It also includes any felony that cannot be committed without creating a substantial risk that someone could be killed.
A murder attorney Fresno can help you fight against the second-degree murder charges.

Capital Murder

This is the most heavily punished type of murder and is known as first-degree with special circumstances. If found guilty of this crime it is punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole. You can be charged with this crime for:

  • Murdering someone for financial gain.
  • Murdering a police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official.
  • Murdering someone for the race, religion, color, etc.
  • Murdering someone by drive-by.
  • Murdering more than one victim.

A murder attorney Fresno can help you fight against the capital murder charges.

Penalties for Murder

The penalties for this crime vary depending on the degree. For first-degree murder you face a sentence of 25 years to life in a state prison. If it was based on a “hate crime”, you face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Capital murder is punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. If you are convicted of second-degree murder, you will face 15 years to life in a state prison. This punishment can increase if:

  • You have previously served a sentence for a murder conviction.
  • You killed the victim by shooting a firearm out of vehicle with intent to cause serious injury or death.
  • You killed a peace officer.

Additional penalties include:

  • A “strike” on your record in accordance with California’s three strikes law.
  • Additional sentencing if a gun is used or if the offense is gang-related.
  • Victim restitution.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.
  • The loss of the right or own or possess a firearm.

Legal Defenses for Murder

There is a range of different legal defenses for murder depending on the circumstances. It’s important to hire a murder attorney Fresno to help you fight the charges for murder. Some of the most common ones include:

Self-Defense or Defense of Others

California has a self-defense law that helps keep people safe who were acting in self-defense. If you kill someone while defending yourself or another person you could be safe from a murder conviction. This law only applies if you reasonably believe that you or another person are in imminent danger of:

  • Being killed
  • Suffering great bodily injury
  • Being raped, maimed, robbed, or the victim of some other violent crime

The killing was an accident

Killing someone is an accident if at the time you killed someone you:

  • Had no criminal intent to do any harm
  • Were not acting negligently
  • Were otherwise engaged in lawful activity at the time of the killing.

The insanity defense

In order to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, it has to be proved that you only killed because:

  • You didn’t understand the nature of your act, or
  • You couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.

False and coerced confessions

Police cannot use coercive tactics to get a confession. If they do use coercive tactics, the court can exclude the confession from evidence.

Evidence from an illegal search and seizure

If the police didn’t follow proper procedure to obtain evidence then it is a violation of your 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Mistaken Identification

Mistaken identification is a very common reason for false convictions. There are a variety of factors that can cause a person to identify the wrong suspect including stress, focusing on the weapon during an attack, intoxication, the suspect being of a different race, a lot of time between the incident and when they were asked to identify the suspect, and improper suggestion by the police. It is up to the murder attorney Fresno to show that the identification is unreliable.

Hire the top murder attorney Fresno to fight against your murder charge.

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