Murder Defense Attorney | Torrance

What Is Murder?

Wallin and Klarich Criminal Defense Attorneys Orange County First Degree MurderMurder is the unlawful killing of another person under California Penal Code 187 (PC 187). You could face decades or even life behind bars depending on the charges filed against you. This is why it’s critical for you to immediately contact our skilled murder defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. For 40+ years, we’ve successfully defended clients charged with murder in Torrance, and we’ll fight to help you avoid a murder conviction. Call us today at (877) 466-5245 or (877) 4-NO-JAIL for your free consultation!

Elements of Murder | PC 187 

The prosecution must prove the following three facts beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of murder: 

  • Your actions caused another person’s or fetus’s death.
  • Your state of mind at the time met the requirements of malice aforethought, which means you acted with either:
    • Express malice: You intentionally killed the other person. 
    • Implied malice: You understood your actions were dangerous to human life but disregarded this knowledge and intentionally committed the act.  
  • You were not defending yourself or others from immediate danger. 

First-Degree Murder in Torrance | PC 187

First-degree murder involves the above elements as well as intent to kill, premeditation, and calculated planning. The prosecutor must prove your case meets special circumstances for a first-degree murder charge in Torrance, including: 

  • The use of a destructive device, explosive, or a weapon of mass destruction 
  • Lying in wait or ambushing the victim 
  • Toturing the victim (PC 206)
  • Deliberate premeditation or planning 
  • Felony murder

Premeditation & Deliberation

First-degree murder is very different from second-degree murder. A first-degree charge requires evidence of planning and deliberation. However, a long period of planning or deliberation is not required. For example, if you think about killing the alleged victim while walking into another room to retrieve a gun, the Torrance prosecutor could prove premeditation.  

Capital Murder | PC 187

Capital murder is the most serious crime in California. You may face capital murder charges if you killed someone under the following circumstances:   

  • For financial gain 
  • A police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official
  • Hate crime 
  • A witness for a court case
  • Drive-by shooting 
  • Street gang killing
  • More than one person

Second-Degree Murder in Torrance | PC 187

Second-degree murder does not require proof of premeditation and deliberation. The prosecution files second-degree murder charges for murders that do not meet the above requirements of first-degree. For example, the following situations may warrant a second-degree murder charge:

  • Firing a gun at a party and causing another person’s death
  • Driving drunk with a prior DUI conviction and causing a fatal wreck 
  • Hitting an intoxicated person in the head, who later dies as a result of their injury 

New California Law For Felony Murder | Senate Bill 1437

On January 1, 2019, California enacted Senate Bill 1437, which changed what is considered a felony murder. You can only be charged with felony murder for  committing, attempting, or participating in a felony crime, and you:

  • Kill a person
  • Assist or help another person commit first-degree murder with intent to kill. 
  • Took a significant role in the felony with “reckless indifference to human life.”
  • Caused the death of a peace officer while they were performing their duties

First-degree Felony Murder

Torrance prosecutors could charge you with first-degree felony murder if the killing occurred during the attempt or commission of a felony. Some examples of felonies that present a clear danger to human life and result in a first-degree felony murder charge in Torrance include but are not limited to:  

  • Mayhem – PC 203
  • Torture – PC 206
  • Kidnapping – PC 207
  • Robbery – PC 211
  • Carjacking – PC 215
  • Train wrecking – PC 219
  • Arson – PC 451
  • Burglary – PC 459 
  • Rape – PC 261
  • Unlawful Sodomy – PC 286
  • Illegal acts of oral copulation – PC 287
  • Forcible acts of penetration – PC 289
  • Lewd acts with a minor – PC 288

Second-Degree Felony Murder

The court reviews each murder case to determine whether the second-degree felony murder rule applies. The prosecution can charge you with second-degree felony murder if the following are true: 

  • Your case doesn’t fit first-degree murder requirements. 
  • You caused or were involved in someone’s death during the attempt or commission of a felony.

Murder Sentencing | Legal Penalties You’re Facing

A murder conviction is undoubtedly life-changing.  If convicted of murder in Torrance, you can face decades or the rest of your life in prison. The worst part is that you can never replace that time. California Penal Code 187 outlines the legal penalties for murder, including:

Penalty For First-Degree Murder

  • A prison sentence of 25 years to life

Penalties For Capital Murder

A capital murder conviction carries the following penalties: 

  • The death penalty, either the gas chamber or lethal injection
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole 

As of March 12, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom temporarily suspended executions, so prosecutors aren’t currently pursuing the death penalty in murder cases. 

Penalties For Second-Degree Murder

  • 15 years to life in prison
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole 
  • 20 years to life for a “drive-by shooting”
  • 25 years to life for killing a peace officer 
  • Life in prison if the prosecution proves you caused the death of a peace officer while attempting to cause great bodily injury with a deadly weapon or firearm. 

Civil Consequences For A Murder Conviction

On top of the legal and personal consequences, you may also face a wrongful death lawsuit against you, which can have far-reaching impacts on your family as well. If the victim’s family wins, the judge may order them millions of dollars, resulting in the financial devastation of your loved ones. Defeating your murder case can help you avoid a civil suit as well. 

Get the legal help you need! Call Wallin & Klarich today at (310) 527-5500 for your free consultation.

Defenses For Murder | How We Can Help You

Without expert legal representation, the chances of winning your murder case are very slim. With over 40 years of experience, we possess the knowledge and skills to help you avoid decades in prison. We have used a variety of defense strategies to defeat murder charges in Torrance, some of which include: 


In California, you have the right to defend yourself and others from the threat of great bodily injury or death, even if it results in another person’s death. However, we must demonstrate to the court:

  • You were in fear of the alleged victim causing great bodily injury or death. 
  • You reasonably believed the alleged victim was about to inflict great bodily injury or death. 
  • You reasonably believed deadly force was the only way to defend yourself from the threat. 
  • You used reasonable force given the circumstances.

Note: If you use self-defense in your home, the law doesn’t require reasonable fear of severe injury or death, but your Wallin & Klarich attorney must demonstrate the following: 

  • You believed force was necessary to stop an act of violence in your home. 
  • You believed the alleged victim placed you or others in immediate danger. 
  • You believed deadly force was necessary to eliminate that danger. 
  • You used appropriate force. 

If the prosecution charged you with murder, even though you were defending yourself, call Wallin & Klarich today for a solid defense strategy! 

Accidental Killing

The prosecution must prove you act with either intent to kill or disregard for human life to successfully convict you of murder in Torrance. If you didn’t intentionally commit the act, the court should not convict you of murder. For example, you pick up a firearm, and it accidentally discharges, causing the death of your friend. 

Coerced Confession 

If you confessed to a murder you did not commit, we could argue that your confession was coerced by showing that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights. When this argument is successful, the judge throws out false confessions, leading to murder charges being reduced or dismissed. 

Killing In The Heat Of Passion

California law separates murders that occur in the heat of passion. In the case of murder following a sudden quarrel, your attorney may raise this defense to get your murder charge reduced to voluntary manslaughter. So you face a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison instead of 15 to life. 

However, your attorney must prove the following facts to get your charges reduced successfully:

  • The victim provoked your actions. 
  • Their provocation caused intense emotion that clouded your judgment and led you to act before thinking. 
  • Their provocation would have pushed any average person to respond in the same way. 

For example, you return home from work and find your spouse in your bed with their lover. You react by killing them. In this case, your attorney may have solid grounds to argue the killing occurred in the heat of passion. 

Hiring The Right Murder Defense Team | How We Can Help You

You don’t settle for an average lawyer with your future at stake. Instead, you hire an experienced attorney with the knowledge to defend you against serious charges. At Wallin & Klarich, we believe everyone deserves excellent legal representation. Choosing the right defense lawyer for your murder case requires careful consideration of many factors. Four key aspects quickly set skilled law firms apart from the rest:  

  1. Commitment to clients
  2. Integrity in action 
  3. Legal expertise 
  4. Community respect 

Our Commitment To You | The Wallin & Klarich Difference 

At Wallin & Klarich, we are committed to our clients. When you trust us with your case, we never take it lightly because we understand your life’s hanging in the balance. We set aside time to go over what to expect and any new developments in your case so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Our attorneys treat you with integrity, starting with an honest, genuine conversation between us. 


We’re upfront with all our fees from the very beginning, and once we’ve had time to investigate your case thoroughly, we lay all your available options on the table. To ensure your questions and concerns never go unheard, we return your phone calls and emails within 24 hours and keep an on-call criminal defense lawyer for after-hours legal emergencies. Most importantly, we guarantee a judgment-free environment for you and your loved ones.

Wallin & Klarich | Unparalleled Legal Expertise

Wallin and KlarichOur 40+ years of experience sets us apart from the crowd of defense lawyers. We’ve defended many clients facing murder charges with remarkable success. Some of our clients came to us with nowhere else to turn and no hope of winning their case. However, our background allowed us to spot strengths in their cases, which an attorney with less experience would’ve missed.

By tailoring our defense strategies to fit the specific details of your case, we increase your chance of success. We have the added advantage of knowing the techniques of local prosecutors and the personalities of judges in Torrance. Our passion for defending the unfairly accused is the driving force behind each of our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. 

Discover how our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you fight false accusations in Torrance, CA. Contact us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL.

Respected & Recognized | Wallin & Klarich

The community recognizes the Wallin & Klarich name for our strong values and legal expertise. For over 40 years, we’ve built our powerful reputation by maintaining our integrity, valuing our relationships with clients, and consistently striving to redefine excellence. For more insight, check out our recent and past success in the courtroom. 

Our Notable Cases | Wallin & Klarich Newsworthy Legal Strategies

Many attorneys point to their experience or skill in defending clients charged with murder, but our attorneys deliver actual results even in the most complex cases. Over the past 40+ years, many of our legal battles have captured the media’s attention. Television, newspapers, and the digital world have covered some of our most notable moments. We encourage you to explore our newsworthy cases below to learn more about our law firm. 


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(310) 527-5500
(888) 749-0034
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