January 8, 2021 By Paul Wallin

Can someone be charged with First Degree murder if they never actually killed anyone?

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. 

Wallin and Klarich Criminal Defense Attorneys Orange County First Degree Murder

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: 

  1. intended to kill or 
  2. 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?

The Wallin & Klarich approach has worked for over 40 years to help our clients feel comfortable and secure, knowing that there is a law firm zealously working on their behalf. We invite you to read the many testimonials our former clients have written about us and watch some of our client video testimonials. We believe our former clients can help you better understand why thousands of people facing criminal charges such as yours have retained our office or referred their friends and family to our law firm year after year.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-4279 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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