Riverside Murder Defense Attorney

What Is Murder?

Under California Penal Code Section 187 (PC 187), a murder occurs when you unlawfully kill another person or fetus with “malice aforethought.” Depending on the degree, It can be the most serious crime in California. If you’re accused of murder in Riverside, it’s crucial to contact our murder defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to avoid spending the rest of your life behind bars. With over 40 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with murder in Riverside, we are the attorneys you want on your side.

What The Prosecution Must Prove | PC 187

For any type of murder conviction in Riverside, the prosecution must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You caused the death of another person or fetus.
  • You acted with malice aforethought.
  • You had no valid reason for your actions, such as self-defense.

Malice aforethought refers to your state of mind at the time of the murder. This is a crucial element for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There are two types of malice. Express malice means you intended to kill the other person. Implied malice occurs when:

  • You commit an act intentionally.
  • Your actions are dangerous to human life.
  • You understand the natural consequences of your actions are dangerous to human life.
  • You disregard the knowledge of the danger and act anyway.

For example, if you have prior DUIs and drive drunk causing a fatal crash in Riverside County, you can be charged with murder even if you didn’t plan to kill the victim. If the prosecution can prove implied malice by showing you knew your actions could potentially result in death, you can be convicted of second-degree murder.

First-Degree Murder Charges | PC 187

First-degree murder involves the three elements of murder discussed above as well as premeditation, deliberate planning, and intent to kill. The killing must meet special circumstances to be charged with first-degree murder in Riverside. Any of the following five circumstances warrant a first-degree murder charge:

  • Using a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, ammunition to penetrate metal or armor, or poison.
  • Lying in wait for the victim
  • Inflicting torture on the victim (PC 206)
  • Willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing
  • Felony murder

Premeditation & Deliberation

The element that set first-degree murder apart from second-degree is premeditation and deliberation. The prosecution must show that you had a conscious intent to kill the victim. This does not mean you took a long time to plan or deliberate. If you thought about what you were about to do even just for a few minutes and went forward with the killing, this may be enough to warrant a first-degree murder conviction in Riverside County.

Capital Murder Charges | PC 187

First-degree murder rises to the level of capital murder when special circumstances occur. This is the most serious type of murder charge in Riverside. CA. Some of the special circumstances that warrant a capital murder charge include but are not limited to:

  • murder for financial gain
  • the murder of a police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official
  • murder in a hate crime
  • murdering a witness to stop them from testifying
  • murder involving a drive-by shooting
  • murder to benefit a street gang
  • murdering multiple people

Second-Degree Murder Charges | PC 187

Under PC 187, second-degree murder is an intentional killing without premeditation and deliberation. Any murder that does not meet the requirements of first-degree murder is charged as second-degree murder in Riverside. Some scenarios that might warrant a second-degree murder charge include:

  • Shooting a gun at a house you knew was full of people, resulting in someone’s death
  • After being convicted of a DUI, driving drunk, and causing a wreck that kills a person

New Felony Murder Rule| Senate Bill 1437

As of January 1, 2019, Senate Bill 1437 went into effect changing the law in terms of what can be considered felony murder in California. Under the new felony murder law, you can be charged with felony murder when you commit, attempt, or participate in a felony and one of the following is true:

  • You kill a person
  • You aid or abet in a first-degree murder with intent to kill
  • You played a major role in the felony and acted with “reckless indifference to human life”
  • Your actions resulted in the death of a peace officer while he/she was engaged in the performance of his or her duties

First-degree Felony Murder

You can be charged with first-degree felony murder for a killing if the specifics of your case meet the requirement of the felony murder rule above and you commit, attempt, or participate in one of the following felonies:

  • Penal Code 203 PC mayhem
  • Penal Code 206 PC torture
  • Penal Code 207 PC kidnapping
  • Penal Code 211 PC robbery
  • Penal Code 215 PC carjacking
  • Penal Code 219 PC train wrecking
  • Penal Code 451 PC arson
  • Penal Code 459 PC burglary
  • Penal Code 261 PC rape
  • Penal Code 286 PC unlawful acts of sodomy
  • Penal Code 287 unlawful acts of oral copulation
  • Penal Code 289 PC forcible acts of penetration
  • Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor

Second-Degree Felony Murder

If the felony isn’t listed for first-degree felony murder, the court determines where the second-degree felony murder rule applies based on the details of each case. You can be charged with second-degree felony murder if someone is killed during your attempt, commission, or participation in felonies that are dangerous.

Murder Penalties | What You’re Facing

If you’re convicted of murder, you face decades behind bars, and for a capital conviction, you’ll spend the rest of your life locked away. That’s time that you can never get back or replace. Under California Penal Code 187, the legal penalties for a murder conviction include:

Punishment For First-Degree Murder

  • 25 years to life in state prison

Punishment For Capital Murder

If the requirements for capital murder are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you face:

  • The death penalty (gas chamber or lethal injection)
  • A prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole

On March 12, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom placed a temporary moratorium on executions, so prosecutors aren’t currently seeking the death penalty.

Punishment For Second-Degree Murder

  • 15 years to life in state prison
  • If you’ve been convicted of murder, you face life in prison without the possibility of parole
  • If you shot and killed the victim in a “drive-by shooting,” you can be sentenced to serve 20 years-to-life
  • If you kill a peace officer, you face 25 years to life.
  • If you intend to kill the peace officer, intend to cause great bodily injury to the officer, or use a deadly weapon or firearm, you face a life sentence.

Civil Consequences For A Murder Conviction

If you’re found guilty of murder, the family of the victim can file a wrongful death suit against you. The victim’s family could be awarded millions of dollars, which would only add to your family’s heavy financial burden and stress.

Defenses For Murder | How We Can Help You

Over the course of 40+ years, we’ve successfully defended many murder cases in Riverside and throughout California, and we’ve pinpointed many effective defenses for murder charges, some of which include:


An effective legal strategy for murder is to claim self-defense. To be successful in proving self-defense, your attorney must show that you:

  • reasonably believed you were in immediate danger of great bodily harm or death
  • reasonably believed deadly force was required to defend yourself
  • used no more force than was necessary

Self-Defense In A Home

If you are threatened in your home, you don’t have to show a reasonable fear of great bodily injury or death as is required for self-defense outside of your home. To show self-defense in your home, your attorney must show that you

  • believed you were defending against an act of violence in your home
  • believed you were in imminent danger
  • believed deadly force was required
  • used no more force than necessary


If you have a mental disorder preventing you from understanding that your actions are morally wrong, you can plead not guilty by reason of insanity. To convince the court you’re not guilty of murder by legal insanity, your attorney must present evidence that you:

  • had a mental defect or disease
  • could not understand that your actions were morally or legally wrong due to the moral defect

When you plead not guilty by reason of insanity, your trial has two phases. First, the jury determines if the prosecution has proven your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you’re found guilty, the “sanity phase” begins.

During this phase, the court will hear evidence from both sides detailing your mental state at the time of the crime. If you’re found not guilty by reason of insanity, the court is required to hold you in a mental institution for a minimum of 180 days up to the maximum amount of time that the law allows for your specific crime. The court can order you to an in-patient facility for the rest of your life.

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken identity occurs for many reasons. However, it’s most often caused by inaccurate eyewitness accounts. In fact, many studies have found this to be true. Around one-third of wrongful convictions can be linked to faulty eyewitness identifications. If the facts support this defense in your case, your lawyer will argue that the police arrested the wrong person for the murder.
In the Central Park Five case, five teenagers were accused of assaulting and raping a jogger in Central Park. Due to mistaken identification, they were convicted and spent years behind bars. When new DNA testing showed that a convicted murderer was guilty of the assault, the five men were released from jail, attracting widespread media attention.

Another example is one of our clients who was accused of murder but was released after DNA testing proved that he didn’t commit the murder.

Accidental Killing

Because a conviction for murder requires that the defendant killed the other person intentionally. It is a defense to a murder charge if the defendant killed the other person accidentally. For example, you accidentally shoot someone in a hunting accident. Since you did not intentionally shoot the other person, you should not be convicted.

Killing In The Heat Of Passion

If you killed another person in the heat of passion, you should be found not guilty of murder. If your attorney can show that the killing occurred in the heat of passion or after a “sudden quarrel,” you can get murder charges reduced to voluntary manslaughter. This means instead of facing 15 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder, you’ll be facing a maximum sentence of 11 years in State Prison. To show you killed someone due to a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion, your attorney must present evidence that:

  • The victim provoked you
  • The provocation caused you to act without thinking because your intense emotion eclipsed your reasoning or judgment
  • The provocation would have caused any average person to react in the same way without thinking due to passion rather than judgment.

All three elements must be met for your charge to be reduced to voluntary manslaughter. This defense is commonly used in cases where a person finds their spouse in bed with a lover and kills one of them or both.

Hiring A Riverside Defense Attorney | How We Can Help You

When you’re facing criminal charges, it’s extremely important to hire a skilled attorney with a history of success in the courtroom. At Wallin & Klarich, we believe four (4) key aspects separate an average attorney from the best defense attorney.

1. Experience
2. Communication
3. Track record
4. Ethos – Credibility

Wallin & Klarich | 40+ Years of Experience Defending Murder Charges

With over 40 years of experience defending our clients against murder charges in Riverside, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich understand the different legal strategies that work in the courtroom based on the details of each case. We’re also familiar with the prosecutors, which gives us the advantage of knowing their strategies as well. Our real-world experience allows us to craft a strong defense, greatly increasing your chance of success.

24/7 Communication With Your Attorney | The Wallin & Klarich Way

At Wallin & Klarich, communication and transparency are the foundation of our success. It’s easy for clients to get lost in all the paperwork and legality. We want you to know what’s happening with your case, so we keep communication open and honest, taking the time to listen and address your concerns. This is why so many people choose our attorneys when they’re facing accusations of murder in Riverside. With 24/7 lines of communication and expert guidance throughout their legal journey, our clients are happier and well-informed. Working together, we’re able to achieve the best results.

Let’s begin building the strongest defense for your case. Give us a call at (877) 4-NO-JAIL.

Track Record of Success | Wallin & Klarich History of Winning Cases

Anyone can say they’re successful, but tangible results speak for themselves. We want you to be just as confident in our abilities as we are, so we invite you to look at some of our client’s success stories and big wins in the courtroom.

Reputation & Ethos | Wallin & Klarich A Reputation You Want on Your Side

With hundreds of lawyers claiming to have extensive experience defending clients accused of murder in Riverside, it is challenging to choose the right law firm to defend you. For more than 40 years, we’ve successfully defended clients accused of murder, and many of our cases have been featured on television, in newspapers, and throughout the internet. Check out some of our most notable cases below.

Call Us Today

If you or a loved one are being charged with murder, it is crucial to get ahead of the case and speak to an attorney immediately. Call us, toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with one of our highly-skilled Riverside murder defense attorneys.

When you need us, we will be here.

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Riverside, CA 92506
(951) 684-3340
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