Respected Stanislaus County Criminal Defense Attorney Aggressively Defending Clients Charged with Murder and Manslaughter Offenses
Without question, homicide is the most serious criminal offense. Not only can the punishment for a murder conviction result in a life sentence, but police and prosecutors devote unimaginable resources to investigating and prosecuting these violent crimes. The result is that, unless you have an experienced Stanislaus County criminal defense attorney by your side from the very moment you learn of the charges, you run the risk of being outmatched in the courtroom. At the Law Office of Rebecka A. Monez, we have worked hard to develop a reputation for aggressively defending the rights of people facing murder and manslaughter offenses. With the Law Office of Rebecka A. Monez in your corner, your future, your freedom, and your life are in good hands.
California Homicide Offenses
Generally speaking, there are two types of homicide offenses in California: manslaughter and murder. The difference between the two is that murder involves the unlawful killing of a person with malice, whereas manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human without malice. Malice refers to a person’s mental state at the time the crime was committed. There are several types of manslaughter crimes, described in more detail below.
Under California Penal Code § 192, prosecutors bring voluntary manslaughter charges when someone is alleged to have killed another person in the heat of passion or during a “sudden quarrel.” Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 11 years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter involves a killing that occurred as a result of a lawful act that was carried out in an unlawful manner or without “due caution or circumspection.” Involuntary manslaughter also includes a death resulting from an unlawful act that was not a felony. However, involuntary manslaughter is not charged if the person who caused another’s death was driving a vehicle. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of up to four years in prison.
The crime of vehicular manslaughter refers to a driver’s grossly negligent actions that cause the death of another person. For example, a DUI accident resulting in the death of a pedestrian could be be charged as vehicular manslaughter. However, in Stanislaus County, prosecutors have been charging drivers with murder by trying to establish “implied malice” under the 1981 case, People v. Watson. So, while vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to ten years in state prison, you could also end up being charged with murder following a fatal DUI accident.
Types of Murder in California
Like manslaughter, California also has three different types of murder offenses.
Murder in the First Degree
First-degree murder is the willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of another person. First-degree carries a maximum punishment of 25 years to life in prison.
Capital murder is a first-degree murder with the presence of one or more “special circumstances.” For example, killing another person for financial gain, killing a witness to prevent them from testifying, or committing a gang-related murder are all special circumstance murders. A capital murder conviction will result in either life in prison or the death penalty. While California is not currently carrying out executions, judges are still sentencing people to death.
Murder in the Second Degree
Second-degree murder is the willful killing of another person that was not deliberate or premeditated. Second-degree murder is also frequently charged under the felony murder rule, which allows prosecutors to charge anyone who was participating in a felony resulting in another person’s death with murder. Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 years to life in prison.
In any murder or manslaughter case, the prosecution may also pursue sentencing enhancements which can dramatically increase your exposure. The most common sentencing enhancements involve the use of a firearm or that the crime was committed in relation to a criminal street gang.
Are You Facing Homicide Charges in Stanislaus County?
If you were recently arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter or any other violent crime, it is essential that you protect your interests. Before you talk to detectives, before you use the jail phone to call your family, before you talk to your cellmate about your case, your first call needs to be to a Modesto criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Rebecka A. Monez is an experienced advocate for those facing the most serious crimes. She takes an aggressive, all-hands-on-deck approach to every case she handles, ensuring that every one of her clients receives the representation they need, deserve, and are entitled to. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 209-488-4959. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.