San Bernardino Murder Attorney
Most civilized societies agree that taking another person’s life willfully and intentionally is one of the most egregious, violent, and devastating acts. That’s why murder is usually foundational when it comes to creating criminal laws in a society. It’s also usually why the act carries the most severe criminal penalties possible.
It’s also why murder in San Bernardino is taken extremely seriously. If you or a loved one were recently charged with murder, then you know how serious those allegations are. Do not wait to hire a good murder defense lawyer. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to face serious long-term imprisonment. Learn more about exactly how California law defines murder, the penalties associated with it, and how to defend yourself below.
How Does the Law Define Murder?
In basic terms, we all understand that murder happens when one person unjustly and illegally takes the life of another. It’s important to understand that different actions, emotions, and motivations come into play when it comes to legally defining someone’s actions as murder, though. Learn more about how the California Penal code outlines different types of murder situations.
California Penal Code Section 187: Murder
Per California Penal Code Section 187, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another person without legal justification and with malice aforethought. Some killings are considered lawful, like when you take someone’s life in defense of your own life or when the government sanctions a killing with the death penalty. “Malice aforethought” is more complicated, but it’s defined as a specific mental state of mind that involves one or more of these elements:
- An intent to take the victim’s lif
- An intent to cause great bodily injury
- Circumstantial evidence that suggests there was an intent to take the victim’s life
- Transferred intent (the killing was intentional but the victim wasn’t the intended target)
- Reckless endangerment
If a Prosecutor can prove malice aforethought, or premeditated, and a lack of legal justification existed in your situation, then you can get convicted of murder.
California Penal Code Section 187(a): Attempted Murder
Did you notice anything missing from the Penal Code’s definition of murder? The intent is irrelevant when it comes to getting charged with murder, but it’s paramount if you’re charged with attempted murder. Attempted murder happens when a person makes specific steps towards killing someone else while also having an intent to kill them.
California Penal Code Section 192(c): Vehicular Manslaughter
This Penal Code deals with the taking of someone else’s life during the act of driving. Due to the dangerous nature of driving, it’s not always appropriate to levy these charges in fatal accidents. You could get charged with this crime if you also knowingly caused an accident for financial gain, were driving in an unlawful manner or were driving recklessly.
California Penal Code Section 192(b): Involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter happens when someone’s life is lost but it’s done without malice or an intent to kill. Rather, the alleged perpetrator must have acted with disregard for human life. This type of charge is often levied with the death that happened during the commission of an unlawful act or a lawful act that was a high-risk activity. The perpetrator usually acted without any caution or concern for the other person’s safety.
Criminal Penalties Associated With Murder in San Bernardino
All murder charges in San Bernardino are extremely serious. While the penalties may not be as extreme as you’d initially think, getting convicted of murder comes with life-long consequences and a persistent social stigma. Learn more about the criminal penalties associated with violating the various murder-related penal codes in California below.
Penalties for Violating PC 187
First-degree murder carries a hefty sentence of up to 25 years in prison with the possibility of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In these situations, there’s a great chance that the perpetrator will never live outside of prison again. Second-degree murder still carries a serious sentence of 15-years in prison to life in prison.
Penalties for Violating PC 192
Vehicular manslaughter can get charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. As a misdemeanor, you’d only serve about a year in state jail. With a felony conviction, you could face up to 10 years in state prison. Involuntary manslaughter comes with a sentence of 4 years in prison.
Professional and Personal Consequences of a Murder Conviction
After you’ve served out your term in prison, you’ll still be liable for court fines. You’ll likely need to serve out a probation period. Even once you’ve dealt with all the criminal consequences of your conviction, you’ll still likely face more problems in your professional and personal life. Professionally speaking, you’ll need to disclose your murder conviction when applying for jobs. Personally, you may struggle to develop strong relationships after disclosing your background. The stigma of a murder conviction is something you’ll need to deal with for the rest of your life.
Common Defense Strategies Against Murder Charges in San Bernardino
The best way to avoid the serious penalties and consequences of murder charges is to not get convicted. To avoid a conviction, it’s crucial to hire a good murder defense lawyer. You should not attempt to represent yourself when you’re facing such significant charges.
Here are some of the most common defense strategies used in murder cases in San Bernardino:
Self-defense is a legal justification for taking someone’s life. It’s also legal to take someone’s life if they are threatening someone else’s life. To use these defense strategies, you must have used reasonable force against the alleged perpetrator.
Mistaken Identity or Mistake of Fact
It’s possible that the murder occurred but the police arrested the wrong person (you). If you know you didn’t commit the crime, then this is the best defense strategy to use.
While popularized in the media, this defense is actually difficult to pull off unless you truly have a mental disorder that prevents you from understanding right from wrong.
It’s possible that you unintentionally took the life of another person, in which case your murder charges would be downgraded to potentially involuntary manslaughter or another type of charge.
Killing in the Heat of Passion
If you killed the other person after getting provoked and unintentionally lashing out while extremely emotional, then it’s possible that you’ll get absolved considering you didn’t displace malice aforethought.
Hire the Best Murder Defense Attorney in San Bernardino
Defending yourself against murder charges is extremely challenging, so you’ll want to hire the best murder defense attorney in San Bernardino to overcome your situation.
Factors to Consider When Hiring a Battery Defense Attorney
Due to the gravity of the situation, you don’t want to leave your legal representation up to chance. You need a skilled, dedicated lawyer who will give you their best every day as you craft a good defense strategy. With that in mind, look for the following qualities when scoping out who to hire to defend you in court:
- Track record
- Ethos – credibility
Since your charges are so extreme, it’s necessary not to compromise when it comes to these factors. You need the very best possible murder defense lawyer to represent you.
Take Advantage of Our 40+ Years of Murder Defense Experience in San Bernardino
If you or a loved one was recently charged with murder in San Bernardino, then we don’t have to reiterate how serious those allegations are. The worst thing you could do is rely on the assumption that court officials or a jury will believe your innocence. Even if you know you didn’t commit the crime or you had a legal reason to do so, you can’t leave your freedom up to chance!
Here at Wallin & Klarich, we have over 40+ years of experience representing clients accused of murder in San Bernardino. We understand exactly how important your freedom and reputation are to you, and we’re ready to put in our full effort to help your cause. Contact our office online or by calling, toll-free (877) 466-5245 as soon as possible to discuss your charges with one of our murder defense attorneys.