Did you know that you can be convicted of murder even if you never killed anyone?.
The case of In In re McDowell indicates that in fact you can be charged and convicted of murder in certain situations.
In the case of Donald William McDowell, Mr. McDowell and his accomplice broke into the home of a drug dealer and attempted an armed robbery. His accomplice shot and killed the drug dealer. Despite the fact that McDowell was not the actual killer of the victim, he was still charged and convicted of first degree murder and given a sentence of life in prison without the possibily of parole.
If the defendant did not actually kill the victim, how can he be convicted of first degree murder?
The answer to this question can be found when you read about in California’s special circumstances murder rule, which is defined in Penal Code Section 190.2. According to this section of the penal code, a defendant that aids or abets a person in the commission of a felony may be charged with first degree murder and given life without parole if it can be shown that “special circumstances exist” —The special circumstances that must be shown are that the defendant either:
- intended to kill or
- aided and abetted the commission of a specified felony “with reckless indifference to human life and as a major participant.” (§ PC § 190.2(d)).
This means that it is possible to be charged with first degree murder and given life in prison without parole even if you never actually killed anyone or intended to kill anyone—as long as you were a major participant in the commission of a felony where someone was killed, and you acted with reckless indifference to human life.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help me with a Felony Murder Charge?
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