Murder Charger

Facing Murder Charges In California

In a tragic incident involving a suspect with a long criminal history in California, a beloved Los Angeles County Sheriff was murdered while attempting to detain the suspect in response to  a residential burglary call.   The shooting took place on Wednesday October 5, 2016.  Deputy Owen, a 29 year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, responded to a burglary call from a woman at an apartment complex in Lancaster, California with another deputy.   As the deputy checked the rear of the apartment building, the gunmen appeared suddenly and shot him. The gunman is now facing murder charges.

  1. Defending any Murder Charges in a California Criminal Case

California Penal Code section 187(a) defines the charge of murder as the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought.   In defending a charge of murder, often times a California criminal lawyer whether your charges are filed in Lancaster, Palmdale, Los Angeles, Ontario, West Covina or any other county or city in California, will defend a murder case based not only based on standard defenses such as identify but also on challenging the element of “malice aforethought” which must be proved by a California prosecutor with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Malice can be express or implied.   California Penal Code section 188 provides that malice is express when the defendant shows a deliberate intention to take the life of a “fellow creature.”   Malice can be implied when “no considerable” provocation triggered a defendant’s actions and the defendant shows a malignant and abandoned heart.  Clearly, the prosecution in the  Sheriff’s case will be putting on evidence that the suspect showed a malignant and abandoned heart in the sudden shooting of a police officer.  The attorney representing the defendant will have to show some considerable provocation or facts amounting to self-defense.  Which could lead to an acquittal or possibly a reduction of charges to second degree murder or manslaughter.

An imperfect self-defense in California can be presented when the defendant has a good faith belief that deadly force was necessary to repel an attack even though that belief was unreasonable.   In bringing this defense, a criminal lawyer will have to put on a defense that shows a defendant could have believed in good faith that he was in imminent danger of suffering an attack of deadly force or great bodily harm.

In order to establishes a complete self-defense theory against murder charges, a criminal defendant must prove that:

  1. They were in imminent danger of being injured, killed or unlawfully touched:
  2. Reasonably believed that forces was necessary to prevent being injured, killed or unlawfully touched; and
  3. The defendant use no more force than was necessary to prevent the harm.

In addition, in California, the “stand your ground” rules apply so a person facing being injured, killed or unlawfully touched does not have to retreat but may engage in lawful self-defense as explained above.

  1. Facing the Death Penalty in California —  Special Circumstances

A criminal defendant can face the death penalty if they are convicted of murder and the murder involved “special circumstances.”   One of the special circumstances that can lead to the death penalty is the murder of a police or law enforcement officer, government official or firefighter.   Once a person is convicted of killing a law enforcement officer, a second trial occurs to determine whether the death penalty should be imposed.  In the penalty face of a special circumstances prosecution, aggravating and mitigating factors are considered by the jury in determining whether to impose the death penalty.

A death penalty case is obviously the most serious case a person can face given the penalty.  As such, it is important to immediately retain a seasoned criminal defense lawyer to secure your best chance at defending yourself against  the government who will use considerable resources in attempting to obtain a conviction involving charges of murder with special circumstances.

Whether you are facing murder charges, a serious felony or a misdemeanor case in California, call Leib Law at 844-210-1701 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.