March 22, 2022 By Paul Wallin

How Can a Lawyer Reverse Your Manslaughter Conviction | The Case of Adora Perez

In the mulling case of In re Perez, the court considers the issue of whether California’s murder statute allows for the prosecution of women whose babies are stillborn as a result of the mother’s illegal drug use. 

In 2017, Ms. Perez suffered a stillbirth, meaning her unborn child died while still in the womb, at a hospital in Kings County. As a result, Perez was charged with murder under California Penal Code section 187, for causing the death of her own fetus through the use of methamphetamines during pregnancy. Due to the possibility of a 25 years to life sentence for a murder charge, Perez pleaded no contest to manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. PC section 187 states murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or fetus, with malice aforethought. On the other hand, California Penal Code section 192(a) states “manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice…upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” The killing of an unborn fetus cannot constitute manslaughter, because a fetus is not a “human being” as defined by PC section 192. Upon review of the conviction for the manslaughter conviction, a judge for the Superior Court of California found that the plea agreement should never have been accepted. Since a person cannot be convicted of manslaughter for the death of a fetus, a plea agreement contemplating such is illegal. Attorney General Rob Bonta further commented on the decision of the Superior Court judge that the language in section 187 was created to ensure a “third party” who killed a fetus would not escape punishment. But, it was not created to criminalize a woman’s own actions that might result in a stillbirth or miscarriage. Attorney General Bonta further stated that using Penal Code section 187 to criminalize the actions of pregnant women could have more dangerous repercussions, including: 

  1. Deterring women with addiction disorders, who may now fear criminal liability and imprisonment, from seeking necessary, and sometimes life-saving healthcare; 
  1. It would subject all women who suffer a pregnancy loss to the threat of criminal investigation and possible prosecution for murder; and  
  1. Leading to disproportionate criminal justice impacts, as the rates of miscarriage and stillbirth vary dramatically by race and ethnicity

Ms. Perez only pled guilty to the voluntary manslaughter charge based on the mistaken claim that a murder conviction was possible due to the circumstances of the case. However, upon the facts presented by the DA, murder should not have been an option in the first place and, as a result, the plea for manslaughter should have never been needed. 

Contact An Experienced Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

Wallin & Klarich have been helping those accused of manslaughter for more than 40 years. Once we review the facts of your case, one of our skilled manslaughter attorneys can defend you against these charges and get you the best possible results in your case. You can place your trust in us because we are committed to defending your rights and your freedom. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, and Los Angeles, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you who can aggressively defend you. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, give us a call and we will do all we can to help you win your case. 

You can find more information about PC 187 and PC 192 on our website by clicking the links. 
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

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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