In California, attempted murder is punished almost as severely as murder itself. Under Penal Code Section 664, you face up to nine years in state prison if you are convicted of attempted murder. That is why you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who may be able to help you beat attempted murder charges.
Defenses to Attempted Murder Charges
If you are facing a charge of attempted murder, the prosecution must prove that these two elements are true:
- You took at least one direct step towards killing another person; AND
- You intended to kill that person.
With the first element, a “direct step” means more than just the planning or preparation for the murder. It requires you to take a step that actually puts that plan into motion.
For example, suppose you plan to kill someone by damaging the brakes on his car. Simply thinking about and creating that plan is not a crime. However, if you crawl under his car and cut the brake line, the prosecution will argue you have taken a direct step toward killing your intended victim.
On the second element, it is not enough that you intend someone to get hurt as a result of your actions. The prosecution must prove that you intended for the victim to die. These elements are important in defending you against attempted murder charges.
Suppose you pull out a gun and fire it a few feet over the head of another person, intentionally missing them. You could have done it to scare or warn the other person. The prosecution will argue, however, that it was a shot aimed at the person’s head and you missed, which could be viewed as evidence that you intended to kill the alleged victim.
Suppose instead you fire the gun at the ground near the person’s feet and the bullet strikes him. Your intent could have been to scare the other person or injure the other person, but not kill him. Your defense attorney can argue that the evidence shows you did not intend to kill that person because you aimed toward the ground and away from any of that person’s vital organs. You may still have committed a serious crime by shooting toward the person, but your lawyer will argue that you cannot be convicted of attempted murder.
In addition to disproving the elements of the crime, there are a number of valid legal defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to use to defend you against attempted murder charges.
One of the most common defenses is that you were acting in self-defense. In the example where you aim the gun at the person’s feet, suppose you only shot the gun because that person threatened you with deadly force. The “victim” was holding a knife, and you reasonably believed at the time that you were in imminent danger of serious injury or death. California law allows you to repel an attempt to use deadly force against you by responding in kind.
However, when a person wishes to raise self defense in an attempted murder prosecution, they must present evidence that their conduct was reasonable in using the degree of force they used to defend themselves from the attack by the alleged victim. If the case goes to trial, it will be up to the jury to determine if the accused’s use of force was reasonable under the circumstances of the case.
Speak to an Experienced Attempted Murder Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are accused of the serious crime of attempted murder, your freedom and future is at stake. You need an experienced defense attorney to defend you against these severe charges. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have been successfully defending people accused of attempted murder for over 35 years. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich attempted murder attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.