Murder and
Manslaughter
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    San Diego Homicide Defense Attorney

    Few things in life are more terrifying than when you or a loved one is facing murder charges. The penalties if convicted are severe and can include life in prison without parole or, in rare instances, even capital punishment. That is why it is critical to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the very start of the case. This will help to ensure that you give yourself the best possible shot at success. If you need a murder defense attorney, call the Law Offices of David Silldorf today.

    Homicide Charges in California

    If you are charged with homicide, it means that you are being accused of taking the life of another person. Homicide charges in California are complex and fall into different categories depending on the intent (mental state) of the accused.

    Here is a brief overview of the different charges you may be facing. While each charge is different, all homicide charges come with severe consequences if convicted. Almost all charges that involve homicide are felonies. Apart from the staggering prison exposure, being convicted of a felony can make it challenging for a person to find a job after incarceration. These are just a couple of reasons why it is essential to hire an experienced homicide lawyer.

    Murder Charges

    Murder charges are substantially more severe than manslaughter charges because they involve “malice aforethought.” This means that there was an intent to kill or seriously harm another individual, or that the accused recklessly engaged in behavior that showed an extreme disregard for life. Murder charges often also involve premeditation. Premeditation means that you planned to commit the murder before actually committing the murder. Premeditation can occur in seconds, and right before the crime.

    In both of these types of murder, the penalties are generally a fixed period of years to Life. A judge will most likely impose a period of incarceration that will last decades. An experienced murder defense attorney is your best option when it comes to getting these charges reduced, dismissed, or achieving the best possible outcome in trial. The state of California recognizes three tiers when it comes to murder charges, including:

    Here is a brief overview of the different charges you may be facing. While each charge is different, all homicide charges come with severe consequences if convicted. Almost all charges that involve homicide are felonies. Apart from the staggering prison exposure, being convicted of a felony can make it challenging for a person to find a job after incarceration. These are just a couple of reasons why it is essential to hire an experienced homicide lawyer.

    Attempted Murder

    California Penal Code Section 664/187 defines Attempted Murder as intending to kill someone and taking a direct step towards killing that person, but not actually killing them. Similar to murder charges, Attempted Murder can be categorized as first-degree or second-degree. First-degree premeditated attempted murder is a serious crime and is defined in Penal Code Section 189.

    First-degree Attempted Murder carries the maximum punishment of life in State Prison while second-degree Attempted Murder has a maximum sentence of 9 years in State Prison. A criminal defense attorney may be able to argue an attempted murder charge down to Assault (PC 240) or Assault with a Deadly Weapon (PC 245) which carries significantly less severe punishments. And needless to say, not having an attempted murder on your criminal record is always a good thing.

    First-Degree Murder

    The crime of first-degree murder is outlined in California Penal Code 187. First-degree murder involves premeditation. If you are charged with first-degree murder, it means that you arrived at the scene of the crime with the intention to kill or seriously injure the victim. California law reserves first-degree murder charges for especially abhorrent acts.

    In order to prove this crime, a prosecutor must show that the crime meets the criteria established in California Penal Code 189. This includes circumstances where the defendant used a weapon of mass destruction, an explosive device, armor-piercing ammunition, or poison. Other circumstances that can warrant a first-degree murder charge are killing someone during the commission of another felony, shooting and killing someone from a motor vehicle, killing someone after lying in wait, or torturing a victim before the killing (the legal definition for torture is outlined in PC 206). The penalty for first-degree murder in California is 25 years to life in prison.

    Second-Degree Murder

    Second-degree murder is defined in California Penal Code 189 as all other crimes of murder that do not meet the criteria for first-degree murder or Capital Murder. Committing second-degree murder means that a person killed another person without premeditation but with “malice aforethought.” That means that a person intended to cause severe harm with their actions but did not plan the crime out in advance.

    It can be difficult to differentiate between manslaughter and second-degree murder, but a criminal defense attorney can walk you through the differences, and advocate on your behalf to get the best possible outcome for your case given its circumstances. The penalty for second-degree murder is fifteen years to life in prison.

    Capital Murder

    Capital murder is the most severe crime that you can be charged with in the state of California and is considered a “murder with special circumstances.” This can involve hate crimes, gang-related murders, murders for financial gain, the murder of a public official, and anything else that makes this type of murder exceptionally dangerous to society as a whole.

    The state of California does have a death penalty, although there is a moratorium on State executions, which can be applied to capital murder offenses. However, the more likely punishment is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Manslaughter Charges

    As discussed above, manslaughter charges, and the range of possible punishments, is significantly mitigated when compared to 1st or 2nd-degree murder charges. They are very serious charges, nonetheless.

    You may be charged with Manslaughter if it is believed that you took the life of another person but you were lawfully provoked, acted in the heat of passion, or were criminally negligent. This is often the charge a person will face if a death was accidental, but resulted from a high degree of negligence. While this charge may carry less severe penalties than a murder charge, a person will almost always face jail or prison time if convicted.

    Voluntary Manslaughter - Penal Code 192 (a) PC

    Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills someone in the heat of the moment but without premeditation. California Penal Code 192 (a) defines voluntary manslaughter as the killing of another human being during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

    Prosecutors will rarely charge a person with Voluntary Manslaughter upfront. It is often used as an alternative charge to murder in cases where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser crime to avoid a lengthy legal battle. Deciding whether a plea agreement is a good idea, getting the D.A. to agree to it, and evaluating if this is the best course of action in the case, requires an experienced criminal defense attorney.

    Voluntary manslaughter is a felony that can be punished by probation with up to a year in County Jail as a minimum penalty. On the other hand, it can also be punished by up to 11 years in State Prison as a maximum penalty. This is preferable to a Murder conviction which can be penalized by 25 years to life in prison.

    Involuntary Manslaughter - Penal Code 192 (b) PC

    Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally kills another person through a disregard for safety or human life.  If a death occurs as the result of the defendant’s unlawful, reckless, or negligent conduct, they may be charged with Involuntary Manslaughter.  

    If convicted of Involuntary manslaughter, a person could be sentenced to up to a year in jail followed by probation as a minimum penalty, or up to four years in prison as a maximum.  The guilty party will also be required to pay fines and restitution to the victim’s family.

    Vehicular Manslaughter - Penal Code 192 (c) PC

    A person may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if they are found responsible for the death of another person in the event of a car accident. Penal Code 192 (c) defines Vehicular Manslaughter as driving in a negligent or unlawful manner and thereby causing the death of another person.

    If it is decided that the driver acted with “Ordinary Negligence,” this can be charged as a misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of a year in county jail. However, in other circumstances, the driver can be charged with a felony if they acted with “Gross Negligence.” This can be punished by a maximum penalty of 6 years in State Prison.

    Determining whether a driver’s behavior amounts to “Ordinary” or “Gross Negligence” requires a complex legal process. In order to achieve the best possible outcome from a Vehicular Manslaughter case, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable and skilled enough to convince the court (or a prosecutor) that their client acted reasonably under the circumstances.

    Defending Against Homicide Charges

    If you are convicted of any homicide-related crime or murder charge, the consequences are going to be severe. If convicted (except specific cases of vehicular homicide), you will always be facing felony punishment and almost always spend time in prison. However, none of that means you are guilty or committed the crime in a way that warrants the charge you are facing.

    There are many legal defenses for murder and manslaughter that may be applicable to your case depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to argue that the homicide was excusable and justifiable which could lead to dismissal or an acquittal. Some of the varied available defenses before and during a trial are:

    • Self-Defense or Defense of Others
    • Imperfect Self-Defense (killing based on an honest but unreasonable belief that you faced imminent danger)
    • Accidental Killings
    • The Insanity Defense
    • False Confession or Coerced Confession
    • Illegal Search and Seizure
    • Mistaken Identification

    In every criminal defense case we take, our top priority is to ensure that you receive a fair trial and ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the best possible legal defense for you, to ensure the best possible legal outcome for you. This is something the murder defense attorneys at David Silldorf Law Firm have done countless times for their clients over the years.

    Hiring a Murder Defense Lawyer

    If you have been arrested for murder (or any of the charges discussed above), you need to call a lawyer right away, even before speaking to the police. Anything you say to anyone, not just an officer, can be held against you when your case goes to trial. Hiring a murder defense lawyer right away is the best way to ensure that we can build the strongest case possible and give you the best possible outcome. Every minute you wait to hire a lawyer is another minute that the prosecution is making a case to put you behind bars.

    In every case that we handle, we do everything we can to help you understand the charges you are facing, advocate and fight hard for you, and do everything in our power to ensure you get the best possible outcome for your case. When you choose an experienced murder defense lawyer, you can be confident that you are doing everything you can to win your case.

    Once we’ve accepted your case, we will work tirelessly to build the strongest case possible, taking into account all evidence and potential witnesses. Our goal is always to get the best outcome possible short of trial, but we are also ready to fight it out in front of a jury.

    While we hope that every case we take will be dismissed, no murder defense lawyer can promise that will be the case as these are very serious charges. However, we will do everything in our power to reduce your charges (or possible punishment) and get you the best possible result. Our results in similar cases over the years speak for themselves.

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      David Silldorf, Homicide Defense Attorney in San Diego

      We go beyond the other murder defense attorneys. That means investigating your case further and taking an aggressive approach in court to discredit the prosecution’s evidence while presenting you to the jury in the best possible way. Understanding your particular case and how the facts and law can work together to get the best outcome is how we work. Our results speak for themselves.

      Contact us today to find out how we can help fight for you.
      If you or a loved one has been charged with murder, manslaughter, or any homicide-related case, we are here to help you get the representation you deserve to get the best possible outcome. Contact us today to get started right away.

      Case Results

      People v. an Individual

      [SWF1900099]

      Accessory after the fact to murder.

      DISMISSED (1 Week Before Trial)

      People v. an Individual

      [SCD267616]

      First & Second Degree Murder.

      NOT GUILTY

      People v. an Individual

      First-degree murder with a gun.

      ACQUITTED (at Jury Trial)

      FREE CASE EVALUATION

      We’ll fight for you so you get the results you deserve.

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