Attempted murder under California law occurs when an individual attempts to commit murder, takes direct action toward completing the murder, and fails at completing the murder. First-degree attempted murder is willful, and premeditated. All other types of this crime will be charged as second-degree. If you are facing these serious violent crime charges, the experienced San Bernardino and Riverside County homicide lawyer Gregory H. Comings can assist you. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we work to reduce or dismiss criminal charges by investigating all circumstances surrounding the alleged crime and setting forth the strongest defense possible. Throughout the course of legal representation, Attorney Comings personally and compassionately handles every case, remaining accessible to clients.Elements of Attempted Murder Under California Law
Attempted murder is codified in California Penal Code 664/187 (a) PC. The elements of this crime require the prosecutor to show that the defendant took a direct but ineffective step toward killing a person, and they intended to kill that person. An individual cannot be charged for an attempt if they accidentally commit a crime. Negligence or recklessness will not support a charge for attempted murder. Instead, the prosecution must show the defendant specifically intended to commit the crime.
A direct step toward this crime is one that shows a plan going into action, more than preparing to murder. There must be definite intent to kill, such that the actual plan to murder would have been completed if a circumstance outside the plan had not interrupted the attempt. An example of a direct action may include shooting a gun in the direction of someone. In comparison, murder preparation includes actions such as buying a weapon, or researching how to kill someone. Preparation is not a direct step and will not support a charge for attempted murder.
For the prosecution to successfully convict a defendant, they must show the element of intent to kill. It is not enough to show an intent to harm. However, an intent to kill someone does not require an intent to kill a particular person, although in many situations, there is one target.Penalties for Attempted Murder First and Second Degree Convictions
Attempted murder is a felony offense, charged by the State of California as first or second-degree. A first degree attempted murder conviction carries potential life imprisonment and the possibility of parole. If the victim was an on-duty firefighter, peace officer, or other protected person as stated by law, the defendant must serve at least fifteen years.
If the prosecution charges second-degree attempted murder, the conviction can carry up to nine years in prison. For both first and second-degree attempted murder, the defendant may be required to pay victim restitution, a maximum fine of $10,000 and may lose their gun rights. Additionally, because attempted murder is a violent felony, it counts as a strike under California’s three-strikes law.Asserting Legal Defenses to Reduce or Dismiss Charges
The facts determine the strength of asserting a specific legal defense, and a trained criminal defense lawyer can assess the proper defense for the case. Abandonment is a defense that may apply to dismiss or reduce charges for this crime. For this defense to apply, a person must freely and voluntarily abandon their plan before taking a step toward committing murder. This may be the case when there was not a direct action toward killing another person
Lack of intent to kill is another potentially strong defense if the defendant was motivated to injure, not kill another person. For example, if the defendant intended to scare the victim, they may be able to lessen the charge to assault.
Self defense law allows for reasonable force in defense, when the defendant believed they were going to suffer imminent harm. If force was only used to protect yourself, or another person, and only in an amount necessary to defend, this defense may apply, particularly if there was no intent to kill.Contact A Dedicated Attorney in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties
The serious charges of attempted murder can lead to life-altering penalties. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will examine the facts and create a strategy to obtain the outcome that places you in the best scenario. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we help clients throughout San Bernardino and Riverside County, including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Temecula, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, and Indio. Our firm can be contacted at (951) 686-3457 for a free case evaluation, or reached online.