Los Angeles First Degree Murder Defense Lawyer

First Degree Murder

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Los Angeles First-Degree murder Defense Attorney

First-degree murder is one of the most serious and penalizing crimes you can be charged with. Many people believe that all California murder cases are the same, but the reality is that the type of murder, as well as the situation itself, can affect certain charges. If you’ve been charged with first-degree murder in Los Angeles, it’s imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney at your earliest opportunity.

At The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman, we work diligently to create a reliable defense for our clients who have been charged with these severe charges. We’re prepared to use our experience navigating Los Angeles murder cases to ensure that your rights are protected. You may feel like you have no reliable defense when charged with this crime, but we can at least help you lessen your penalties if you are convicted.

Murder vs. Manslaughter vs. Homicide

The terms “murder,” “manslaughter,” and “homicide” are frequently grouped together, despite each term implying different things.

Homicide is a broad term that encompasses all types of killings. If you commit a murder, you can be charged with homicide. However, not all homicide charges are the same, and your situation can later be classified as manslaughter or murder, depending on what happened.

Murder means that someone intentionally killed someone else. Manslaughter, however, means that you killed someone without any intention of killing them. For instance, if someone gets drunk and kills someone in a car accident, yet they have no history of DUIs, they may be charged with manslaughter. If someone breaks into someone’s home and murders someone intentionally, they can be met with first-degree murder penalties, all of which are intense and difficult to live with.

What Is First-Degree Murder?

A murder occurs when someone:

  • Performs an action that causes the death of someone else
  • Does something while having a state of mind known as “malice aforethought,” meaning that there was an intention to kill
  • Kills someone without any reasonable or lawful justification, such as self-defense

To be classified as first-degree murder, the person killing someone else has to have done it by:

  • Using a weapon of mass destruction
  • Inflicting torture
  • Performing a premeditated killing
  • Committing a felony murder
  • Lying in wait

If you are charged with first-degree murder, they believe you have killed someone in these fashions, and the punishments can be staggering.

Many Los Angeles residents believe all murders are similar and result in the same charges, but this isn’t the case. Other murder classifications, such as second-degree and felony murder, come with their own definitions and penalties.

Second-Degree Murder

Along with first-degree murder, second-degree murder is another degree of murder recognized in California. If a killing occurs without any of the first-degree murder conditions, a second-degree murder conviction might still apply.

For example, if someone with multiple DUI charges gets involved in a car accident and kills someone, or if someone gets into a fistfight and deals a punch that kills someone, these are considered second-degree murders. The key to these types of murders is that someone may not have had the intention to kill. While people involved in both types of murder cases acted with negligence, there doesn’t have to be any premeditation for second-degree murders.

Felony Murder

You can be charged with first-degree murder if you committed felony murder, but these two types of murders are not the same. Felony murder occurs when someone:

  • Primarily participates or aids in a killing
  • Directly kills someone in an attempted felony
  • Kills a peace officer performing their duties while committing another felony

Even if you don’t directly kill someone, you can still be charged with first-degree murder if you were a major participant.

Capital Murder

Any first-degree murder that is punishable by death is known as capital murder. These murders must have occurred in one of the following ways:

  • The murder was done through an explosive device.
  • The murder was for financial reasons.
  • The murder was done to prevent a lawful arrest.
  • The murderer has a murder charge on their record.

If you are charged with capital murder, you can be punished with either life in prison or death through lethal injection. Although, as of 2019, there is a moratorium on the death penalty in California, it is still a legal sentence by state law.

The Price of First-Degree Murder

Under California law, first-degree murder is considered a felony offense. The punishments you could face can completely change your life and are very difficult to reduce. These punishments include:

  • Imprisonment for at least 25 years with the possibility of parole
  • Imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole
  • Death

These are severe penalties that can negatively impact, or even end, your life. While these are challenging to contest, having the help of a knowledgeable first-degree murder attorney may help your odds of avoiding the death penalty.

Upgrading a Case to First-Degree Murder

In some situations, a murder case can be upgraded to a first-degree murder. There are certain factors that can influence how your case is addressed, known as “aggravating factors.” These factors include:

  • Murdering a police officer or public official
  • Murdering someone through poisoning
  • Murdering a pregnant woman

While these factors can increase your charges, the main point of proving murder cases should be to find the accused’s intent. If someone intentionally murdered a pregnant woman, prosecutors will focus on this and may increase your situation to first-degree murder if it isn’t already. However, if you can prove that you did not intentionally kill someone, prosecutors may not be able to prove their own case, which means that you could avoid or eliminate penalties. This may sound daunting, but you don’t have to do this on your own.

Are Criminal Defense Attorneys Worth It?

For all residents in Los Angeles who get charged with first-degree murder, it is crucial for you to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof lies with the prosecutors, and if they can’t prove every element of first-degree murder, you can’t be charged with it. There are also strategies that you can use to defend yourself and potentially have your case dismissed.

It’s unwise to defend yourself without any legal assistance. While some people neglect to speak with an attorney prior to their court session, criminal defense attorneys can help you navigate this complex situation. They can fully examine your case, determine if there are any vulnerabilities that can be exploited, and use them to build a case for you. It may cost a fair amount of money to hire an attorney, but this is arguably a better deal compared to spending more than two decades in prison. If you’ve been charged despite being innocent, an attorney has the knowledge and strategies necessary to prove it to the prosecution team.

Criminal defense attorneys are absolutely worth speaking to, especially if you’ve been charged with murder. When you’ve been charged with a crime as serious as this, you can’t refuse to take it seriously. Our team is here to help if you’ve been charged with murder in Los Angeles.

los angeles murder FAQs

Q: What Is the Minimum Sentence for First-Degree Murder in California?

A: At its minimum, you’ll spend 25 years in state prison for first-degree murder. While there’s a chance you may be offered parole, this is not guaranteed, especially if your crime is considered a hate crime. If you’re convicted of first-degree murder, expect to spend more than two decades in prison. While a criminal defense attorney can help lessen the charges, this is the minimum you can expect.

Q: What Are the Penalties for Murder in Los Angeles?

A: If you are charged with murder, you can expect to spend anywhere from 25 years to life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. Depending on your specific case, you may also be sentenced to death by lethal injection or gas chamber. The penalties for murder in this city are extreme, so if you believe that you’re innocent of this crime, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Q: What Is Considered a First-Degree Murder in California?

A: If you commit murder intentionally, it will be considered first-degree murder. You will be charged with first-degree murder in California if you murdered someone by:

  • Lying in wait
  • Premeditated killing
  • Inflicting torture
  • Using an explosive device
  • Committing a felony murder

The prosecutors will look at both your specific case as well as your intention, or lack thereof, when making a decision.

Q: What Is the Difference Between First- and Second-Degree Murder?

A: The main difference between these two convictions is that a second-degree murder occurs when there was no premeditation. For example, if someone kills another through drunk driving, despite having multiple DUIs on their record, this can be classified as second-degree murder. However, if someone intentionally shoots someone else, this will be considered first-degree murder.

Let Us Defend You

Los Angeles can be a wonderful city with a lot to explore and take in. However, if you get charged with first-degree murder, it’s essential that you speak with a criminal defense attorney to have your rights protected.

The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman has worked with several clients in the past who have been charged with murder. We take the necessary time to carefully review cases and determine how to move forward, and we’re prepared to walk you through your case as well.

Learn more about how we can help by contacting us today.

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While charges such as DUI and drug possession are common across the country, it's difficult to find a criminal defense attorney who has thorough experience with serious crimes such as manslaughter or human trafficking. When the stakes are so high, you need the experienced, expert criminal defense services of Attorney Jacqueline Goodman.

She combats your charges head-on by utilizing a variety of strategies and working tirelessly to come to a favorable result. If it can be proved that a search was made illegally or you were arrested improperly, your case could be dismissed, for example. Each case is unique, so she uses a unique approach to evaluate and perfect each one. With her help, you could avoid the heavy fines and prison time of a criminal conviction.

Put your trust in a proven criminal defense lawyer

Attorney Jacqueline Goodman has more than 20 years of experience in criminal defense. As the President of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the standalone vice chair of the Sex Offenses division of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, she has been at the forefront of criminal law in California and across the nation.
Initial consultations are free at The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman in Orange County because everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves. Call (714) 879-5770 now.

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Protecting yourself in the face of criminal accusations or charges is serious and, when it comes to your defense, experience counts. Attorney Goodman has tried countless cases and achieved numerous successful outcomes for her clients. She was at the forefront of several high-profile cases, including the murder of an MLB pitcher and the widely known free speech case known as the “Irvine 11.” Browse some of Attorney Goodman’s recent case results to learn more about her exceptional track record.

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case dismissed

Case dismissed

criminal car accident

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case dismissed

Case dismissed

criminal car accident

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case dismissed

Case dismissed

criminal car accident

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