Punishment for Murder in California – PC 187
The punishment for murder in California depends upon whether you or your loved one is convicted of:
If you are convicted of any category of murder, not only will you be sentenced to state prison (and perhaps death row), you will also most likely have to serve your sentence at a maximum security (“Level IV”) prison along with the most dangerous convicted felons in the state. Murder is a violent felony punishable under California’s “Three Strikes Law” (Penal Code 667.5(c)). Therefore, a murder conviction in California carries the maximum punishment and sentencing range, including enhancements if you have a criminal record with prior serious or violent felonies.
Punishment for capital murder
Capital murder is the most serious charge under California murder law. If your case involves one of the special circumstances that elevates first-degree murder to capital murder, you could face the possibility of execution. The punishment for capital murder consists of:
- The death penalty (either the gas chamber or lethal injection), or
- A prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
Punishment for first-degree murder
If you are convicted of first-degree murder under California Penal Code Section 187, you face 25 years to life in state prison. This means that your sentence will be a minimum of 25 years, with the possibility to extend to as long as your lifetime. However, if your first-degree murder conviction was based on a “hate crime” – defined as a crime committed based on the victim’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or nationality – you face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in state prison. A life sentence without the possibility of parole (LWOP) means that you will spend the rest of your life in prison and will not be eligible for release on parole.
Punishment for second-degree murder
If you are found guilty of second-degree murder under California Penal Code Section 187, you face 15 years to life in state prison. However, there are some circumstances that can increase your potential prison sentence, such as the following:
- If you have previously served a sentence for a murder conviction, you may face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- If you killed your victim by shooting a firearm out of a vehicle with the intent of causing serious injury (a “drive-by shooting”), you may be sentenced to 20 years to life.
- If your victim was a peace officer, your sentence increases to 25 years to life.
- You may face life in prison without the possibility of parole if your victim was a peace officer and you:
- Specifically intended to kill the officer,
- Specifically intended to inflict great bodily injury on the officer, or
- Killed the officer using a deadly weapon or firearm.
Additional punishment for murder convictions
In addition to the prison terms above, California murder laws subject you to:
- An additional 10, 20 or 25-years to life in prison if you personally used a firearm during the commission of the murder; and
- A “strike” on your record pursuant to California’s “Three Strikes” Law; and
- Additional sentencing enhancements if the offense is gang-related; and
- Victim restitution; and
- A maximum $10,000 fine, and
- The permanent loss of your right to own or possess a firearm pursuant to Penal Code section 12021, California’s “Felon with a Firearm” law
Civil consequences to a murder conviction
If you are convicted of murder, you may also face a wrongful death suit filed against you in civil court by the family(s) of your victims(s). The cost to you or your loved ones could be enormous – possibly in the range of millions of dollars.
Contact a murder lawyer at Wallin & Klarich now if you have been accused of murder in California.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with murder under California Penal Code 187, contact an attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. The sooner our attorneys can evaluate the evidence against you, the better chance we have to win you your freedom. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience developing highly effective strategies to prove that reasonable doubt exists that our clients are not guilty. We will aggressively defend you every step of the way and help you to achieve the best possible result in your case.
Contact us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL (466-5245) for a free telephone consultation.
We will get through this together.