Recent examples of how important a Los Angeles murder defense attorney can be came in the form of a European rapper charged, and now convicted, or murder. When a lawyer first takes a case, he must analyze whether or not the defendant will be charged with first, second or third degree murder, and whether the individual will face a jury trial or a judge trial.
The varying degrees in Los Angeles murder defense cases can be confusing and ambiguous in many cases. Take for example, the recent case of Swedish rapper David Jassy. The rapper was convicted of second degree murder on February 1 stemming from a November 2008 incident in Hollywood that left 55-year-old jazz pianist John Osnes dead. The road rage incident began as Osnes was heading home from a local bar and Jassy was leaving a nightclub. According to witnesses, including a mother, an off-duty police officer and tourists, Osnes shouted at Jassy and struck the SUV’s hood when Jassy apparently struck the sidewalk. Then the case took a confusing turn when half a dozen witnesses claimed that they saw Jassy get out of his vehicle and fatally attack Osnes by punching him and kicking him in the head. Jassy then gave his side of the story and claimed that Osnes was belligerent and that he feared for his life and that of his girlfriend who was riding in the SUV with him. Jassy then fled the scene and said that he left because he believed he was under attack from a bystander and as he left he ran over Osnes’ body. The panel acquitted Jassy of first-degree murder, an assault charge that stemmed from his running over Osnes, and a vehicle code violation for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Jassy now faces 15 years to life in prison when it comes to sentencing time for the second degree murder charge.
This is the perfect example of where the general public, the accused and the jury might be confused as to what constitutes a first degree Los Angeles murder charge and a second degree Los Angeles murder charge. In most states, first-degree murder is defined as an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated, meaning that it was committed after planning or "lying in wait" for the victim. Most states also adhere to a legal concept known as the "felony murder rule," under which a person commits first-degree murder if any death (even an accidental one) results from the commission of certain violent felonies -- usually arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape and robbery. Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion". It can also be a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
If you have been accused of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter, you should immediately contact Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP. We are knowledgeable in the different categories of murder charges and will fight on your behalf to protect your right to a fair trial.
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Eisner Gorin LLP has been recognized as one of the best U.S. law firms, based on the experience, professionalism, and ethics of its criminal defense lawyers and attorneys. We aggressively defend clients in all Southern California courtrooms on state and federal charges, including DUI, DMV, misdemeanor, felony, juvenile cases, in the following communities and courthouses.