If you or someone close to you is facing charges under California Penal Code section 187 for murder, Gregory H. Comings may be able to help. As a San Bernardino and Riverside County homicide attorney, Mr. Comings represents individuals facing charges for violent crimes including murder and manslaughter. Throughout the process of advocating for you, Mr. Comings will keep you updated on the status of your case. Attorney Comings and the staff at The Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings are committed to protecting your rights as you navigate the legal process.Second-Degree Murder Charges in California
California Penal Code section 187 designates the crime of murder, a form of homicide. Intentionally killing another human being with malice aforethought, and without justification or lawful excuse, is first-degree murder. Second-degree murder refers to an intentional killing without premeditation. In other words, this charge may apply when the mental state of the defendant at the time of the killing was impulsive.
Second-degree murder charges are appropriate if the defendant understood their actions. This differs from voluntary manslaughter where the accused may not have had a complete appreciation for what they were doing. Intending to cause serious bodily harm can also lead to second-degree murder charges. While there may not have been the intent to kill, acting with the knowledge that death may result will satisfy the charge.
Felony murder may be charged as second-degree murder. When a person is killed during the commission of a dangerous felony, the defendant may face murder charges. California currently maintains this rule only in specific circumstances, such as when the defendant was a major participant in the felony, and acted with reckless indifference to human life.Penalties for Second-Degree Murder
Defendants facing charges for second-degree murder may be subject to long term imprisonment, or even life in prison. Aggravating circumstances can lead to harsher sentences, for example, in a case involving the killing of a law enforcement officer. The use of a firearm can also lengthen a prison sentence, as can facts indicating that the defendant is a gang member or that the killing was gang-related.Legal Defenses to Second-Degree Murder Charges
The facts surrounding second-degree murder charges dictate the appropriate legal defenses.
Self defense may apply in certain circumstances, and would fully excuse the defendant’s conduct. If the defendant held a reasonable belief that they or another person were in imminent danger of being the victim of a forcible crime, including being killed or raped, they may be completely excused from second-degree murder charges. In order for this defense to apply, the threat of harm must have been one that would leave a reasonable person fearing death or great bodily harm. Imperfect self defense, which refers to a defendant’s honest but unreasonable belief in imminent danger, may also apply, and can potentially reduce charges. A skilled homicide attorney can assess which defenses may be the most appropriate in your case.
Prosecutorial or law enforcement error can also serve as a strong defense. For example, if evidence used to convict the defendant of second-degree murder was obtained in violation of the defendant’s right to freedom from unlawful search and seizure, this evidence may not be admitted. A murder weapon taken from the defendant’s home without a proper search warrant, for instance, may not be used to support a conviction.
Insanity and accident are other legal defense that may be appropriate. Insanity requires the defendant be unable to understand the nature of the act. Additionally, the insanity test requirements must be met. Accidents that result in death do not indicate the required criminal intent to harm.Experienced Homicide Attorney Serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
People facing murder charges in San Bernardino or Riverside County are entitled to set forth a strong defense. By contacting homicide lawyer Gregory H. Comings, you are taking a step toward protecting yourself and asserting your legal rights. Together with the team at The Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, Attorney Comings is prepared to diligently advocate on your behalf. Mr. Comings fights for the rights of those throughout Temecula, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Moreno Valley, Highland, Fontana, Indio, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, and Redlands. To schedule your free consultation call our office at (951) 686-34567 or contact us online.