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Los Angeles Murder/Manslaughter Lawyer

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Los Angeles Murder/Manslaughter LawyerLos Angeles Murder/Manslaughter Lawyer

A Dedicated Homicide Defense Attorney in Los Angeles, CA, Vigorously Defends Clients Charged with Murder and Manslaughter in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, and Throughout Southern California

Legal trouble doesn’t get much more serious than facing murder or manslaughter changes. What happens next could determine whether you spend the next several years, or potentially the rest of your life, behind bars. The stakes have never been higher, and that’s why you need a murder defense attorney who is prepared to fight for you.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we’re fully committed to representing Californians charged with the most serious crimes. We tirelessly advocate for our clients’ legal rights and craft as strong a defense strategy as possible for each client based on the specific facts of their situation. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

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Murder/Manslaughter Charges in Los Angeles, CA

Hundreds of homicides occur in L.A. each year, according to the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office. People connected to these deaths may be charged with crimes like murder or manslaughter.

The guidance of a murder and manslaughter lawyer can help you make sense of the charges against you and understand what to expect from a complex homicide case.

Understanding Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter Charges in California

Both murder and manslaughter are types of criminal violations under the category of homicide in California law.

Homicide encompasses any act of killing a human being, but it includes both lawful (justified) and unlawful killing. As such, killings that are accidental, arise out of negligence, and are premeditated could all constitute homicide, but not all of these circumstances would constitute murder.

The Legal Definition of Murder in California

California law defines murder as an unlawful killing that involves “malice aforethought.” This means that the perpetrator acted with an intent to kill or such a wanton disregard for life that the death was a predictable consequence of their dangerous actions. Malice in a murder case can be expressed or implied.

Murder is specific to human victims under CA law but may include a human fetus if done without the consent of the pregnant person under Section 187 of the Penal Code.

The most severe murder charges are classified as first-degree murder, while less serious offenses constitute second-degree murder.

Defining Manslaughter Under California Law

Manslaughter refers to unlawful killing that is done without malice aforethought. This generally encompasses acts of causing death without either the intent to kill or a wanton disregard for human life.

California law recognizes three kinds of manslaughter charges:

  • Voluntary manslaughter, or killing that is unplanned and occurs with provocation of some kind in the course of a sudden quarrel or the heat of passion
  • Involuntary manslaughter, or an accidental or unintentional killing that results from committing an unlawful act that doesn’t constitute a felony or from behavior that is risky but not against the law
  • Vehicular manslaughter, or any form of unintentional killing that results from committing an unlawful act while driving a vehicle or from driving behavior that is risky but not against the law

Although less serious than murder, manslaughter charges still result in significant penalties, including jail time.

Areas Served by Our Los Angeles Murder/Manslaughter Lawyer

The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney assist defendants facing murder charges all over Los Angeles and beyond, including in the following areas:

  • Palmdale, Lancaster, and the rest of Antelope Valley
  • Long Beach, South Gate, Compton, Whittier, Norwalk, Downey, and the rest of Gateway Cities
  • Van Nuys, Glendale, Burbank, Encino, Sherman Oaks, and the rest of San Fernando Valley
  • West Covina, Pasadena, Pomona, Rosemead, El Monte, and the rest of San Gabriel Valley
  • Redondo Beach, Torrance, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Carson, and the rest of South Bay
  • Malibu, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Century City, and the rest of Westside

What Happens If You Are Charged With Murder or Manslaughter?

The consequences of a conviction on homicide charges depend on the type and degree of the charge against you.

First-Degree Murder Charges and Sentences in California

In California, first-degree murder encompasses the following:

  • Deliberate, willful, and premeditated killing
  • Homicide that results from the use of explosives or destructive devices
  • Killing achieved through the use of a weapon of mass destruction
  • Killing by firearms ammunition designed to penetrate armor or metal
  • Deaths by intentional poisoning
  • Homicide achieved by lying in wait for the victim
  • Killing that involved torture
  • Homicide perpetrated by firing a gun from a motor vehicle
  • Killing that occurred during the commission of or attempt to commit a violent crime

Murders committed while perpetrating a serious offense, as listed below, are considered felony murders.

  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Train wrecking
  • Mayhem, or an intentional attack that maims, disfigures, or causes disability to the victim
  • Certain other serious criminal violations, including but not limited to sex crimes

Murders committed under certain special circumstances, as established in Penal Code 190.2, are considered capital murder. These circumstances include murders conducted for financial gain, murders of more than one victim, murders of peace officers, hate crimes, drive-by shootings, and gang-related murders.

Under California Penal Code Section 190, first-degree murder gives rise to one of the following sentences:

  • The death penalty
  • A life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole
  • 25 years to life imprisonment in state prison

You’ll face the most severe consequences if the charge you are convicted of is first-degree murder. One avenue of defense your Los Angeles murder/manslaughter lawyer may explore is whether the evidence supports an argument that would downgrade the charges to second-degree murder or manslaughter instead of first-degree murder.

Second-Degree Murder Charges and Penalties in CA

Second-degree murder charges in California encompass all murders that involved malice (express or implied) but that were:

  • Not premeditated, deliberate, or willful
  • Not committed in the course of perpetrating a serious violent crime, as listed above
  • Not committed with the use of explosives or destructive devices
  • Not committed using weapons of mass destruction
  • Not committed using armor-piercing ammunition
  • Not committed using poison
  • Not committed by discharging a firearm from a vehicle

For second-degree murder charges, the penalty is generally a state prison term of 15 years to life. Certain conditions may impose longer minimum sentences. For example, California law establishes the following sentences:

  • Second-degree murder of a peace officer performing their duties invokes a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
  • If it’s determined that the defendant specifically intended to kill or inflict great bodily injury on the officer or used a firearm or other dangerous weapon in the crime upon the peace officer, the sentence prescribed under Section 190 of the Penal Code is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  • A person who served a prior prison sentence for first-degree or second-degree murder may be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a repeat offense.

Just because the charge against you is second-degree rather than first-degree murder doesn’t mean the consequences aren’t serious. You could still spend decades, if not the rest of your life, in prison. You need a skilled Los Angeles murder/manslaughter lawyer to defend you against these charges.

Manslaughter Charges and Sentences

If convicted of manslaughter, you could still spend a decade or more in prison. The exact circumstances of the case greatly affect the sentence. For lesser crimes, you might be facing only a matter of months to a couple of years in jail, while the most serious manslaughter charges could lead to 11 years of incarceration.

How Can a Los Angeles Murder/Manslaughter Lawyer Defend Against Homicide Charges?

Experienced murder and manslaughter attorneys look at all of the evidence and all of the options to put together the strongest possible defense for their clients. Depending on the facts, some potential defenses that may make sense to explore in your murder or manslaughter case include:

  • The killing was conducted in self-defense.
  • The killing was conducted in defense of someone else whom the perpetrator reasonably believed to be in imminent danger.
  • The killing was accidental, and the defendant was neither acting negligently nor engaging in illegal acts.
  • The allegations against the defendant arose out of mistaken identification.
  • Any confessions the defendant made were false or coerced.
  • The evidence in the prosecution’s case was obtained through illegal search and seizure or is otherwise permissible in court.
  • The defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • The evidence supports conviction on a lesser charge, such as second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder or manslaughter rather than second-degree murder.

A carefully thought-out defense supported by compelling evidence can change the course of a murder or manslaughter case and improve the likelihood of the defendant attaining as positive an outcome as possible under the circumstances.

Contact a Los Angeles Murder/Manslaughter Lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for a Confidential Consultation at No Cost

Don’t wait to consult a murder and manslaughter lawyer about your case. For help from a homicide defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney online or call (310) 209-3999 today.

Murder/Manslaughter Charges Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

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Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.