If you are facing a charge of murder in any degree, you likely know the seriousness of the situation. The unlawful killing of another person is the greatest crime anyone can commit under the justice system and as such, it is prosecuted to the highest extent of the law. It is important that when you are charged with a homicide crime, you retain the legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent you and your rights before the court. We represent people in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and Southern California. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.
In California, murder is classified by degree based on the method, motive and intent of the crime. The fundamental element in any murder charge is the presence of intent. In order to qualify as murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had “malice aforethought” before killing the victim. This means that the crime must have been planned, to some degree, before it was carried out. This is to distinguish intended homicide from accidental manslaughter.
There are two fundamental degrees of murder. First degree murder, which has potential to be elevated to capital murder, may involve a number of situations all of which are laid out in the California Penal Code. If convicted of first degree murder, the defendant may be facing up to 25 years in prison or even life in prison, for capital murder. Second degree murder is slightly less severe than first degree. The main difference between the two is that second degree murder lacks premeditation for the crime. This means that, while the alleged killer intended for his or her actions to result in the death of the victim, they did not plan the act a significant time ahead of time.
Some situations may be cause for a first degree murder charge even if there was no premeditation. These actions often involve aggravated felonies involved with the death of the victim, such as rape, burglary and kidnapping. An individual may also face a first degree murder charge if the victim was a peace officer or if the murder was done in exchange for money.
The seriousness of a murder charge, regardless of the degree, is more than obvious. However, if you are innocent of the crime or if you are being charged unfairly, conviction is not necessary. A Ventura criminal defense attorney can offer legal insight and quality representation so that you are defended adequately against the charges.
Contact Ridley Defense today by calling (805) 208-1866 to discuss your situation with a member of our legal team and learn how we can defend you against your charges.