Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

California Murder Defense Law

Posted on: September 20, 2008 at 12:05 p.m.

The criminal defense of murder cases in Southern California is typically handled by very experienced attorneys, as the prosecution and the defense face high stakes. The prosecutor attempts to vindicate the interests of the decedent and his family, while the defense lawyer is facing the possibility of his client receiving life in prison.

California criminal law provides a person may be found guilty of murder, under an implied malice theory. In other words, when the defendant has no intent to kill a decedent, he may be found guilty of murder if his conduct is found reckless enough by a jury. For example, criminal prosecution has extended the use of the implied malice theory of murder (ie. where to is no express intent to kill the deceased) to argue that a defendant is guilty of murder, when death is caused, where the defendant's reckless conduct was committed during the course of drunk-driving, street racing, evading the police during a pursuit, interfering with railroad cars, gang crimes that begin with a simple fight, and playing russian roulette with a firearm.

A recent case dealt with the theory of implied malice in murder cases, and addressed a situation where a defendant does not know a woman is pregnant, can he be held responsible for the death of the fetus as a result of his violent actions upon the mother? While the knee jerk societal response is "of course he should be," the defendant's response is -- "I did not know of its existence and should not be found guilty."

A criminal court decision provided guidance for Los Angeles criminal lawyers specializing in the defense of murder cases. The Appeals Court rejected a defendant's argument that he was not guilty of murder for killing an unborn child because he had strangled

Tagged as: california criminal laws, jury trial defense

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