California Penal Code Section 187 PC – Murder

California Penal Code Section 187 PC makes it a crime for a person to unlawfully kill a human being with malice aforethought. The malice requirement is satisfied if the defendant acted with the specific intent to kill or he acted with such recklessness that he knew there was a high probability that his conduct will result in the death of another person. The prosecution can charge murder as either first degree premeditated murder or second-degree murder.

If a person is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces twenty-five (25) years to life in California State Prison. On the other hand, if a person is convicted of second-degree murder, he faces fifteen (15) years to life in California State Prison. So, if you have been charged with murder in Los Angeles or elsewhere in the State of California, you should contact an experiencer murder defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you.

We have handled murder cases, and have been able to achieve excellent results for our clients. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal code Section 187 PC – Murder

According to California Penal Code Section 187 PC, “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.”

The prosecution usually brings first-degree murder charges in the following circumstances:

  • The defendant’s actions were deliberate and premeditated
  • The defendant used poison to commit murder
  • The defendant was lying in wait to kill his victim
  • The defendant tortured his victim before killing him or her
  • The defendant committed murder by using a destructive device or weapon of mass destruction
  • The defendant is charged with felony murder – for a murder that occurred during the commission of a certain felony

Note: All other murders are considered to be second-degree murder. Second-degree murder is a very serious charge; however, it carries a shorter prison sentence that ranges from 15 to life vs 25 to life for first-degree murder.

What Must the Prosecution Prove to Convict a Person of Murder?

For the prosecution to convict a person of murder under Penal Code 187, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict a person of murder.

The burden of Proof for First Degree Murder

For the prosecution to convict a person of first-degree murder it must prove that the defendant killed another person and did so:

  • Willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation
  • By inflicting torture upon the murder victim
  • By lying in wait
  • By using a destructive device or weapon of mass destruction
  • Under the felony murder rule – by killing a person while committing an enumerated felony

The burden of Proof for Second Degree Murder

For the prosecution to convict a person of second-degree murder, it must prove that the defendant killed another person, and the defendant did so by acting so recklessly that he knew there was a high probability that his actions could result in the death of another person. The prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant acted with premeditation and deliberateness to convict him of second-degree murder.

Examples of Murder – Penal Code 187

First Degree Murder

The defendant gets into a fight with his girlfriend. He goes to his home and his girlfriend goes home to her home. Later that same day, the defendant drives over to his girlfriend’s home and kills her. He can be charged with and convicted of first-degree murder.

The defendant gets into a fight with a man on the street. The defendant leaves and then hides behind the man’s vehicle waiting for him to come back. When the man comes back, the defendant pulls out his gun and shoots him, instantly killing him. The defendant can be convicted of first-degree murder because he waited for his victim and killed him in cold blood.

Second Degree Murder

The defendant is at a shopping mall. While he’s at the mall, he gets into a fight with another guy. So, to scare the guy, he begins randomly shooting throughout the mall. He accidentally kills a person shopping at the mall. The defendant can be convicted of second-degree murder because his actions were so reckless that even if he did not intend to kill someone, he was aware of a high risk that his actions (shooting randomly in the mall) could lead to the death of another person. As such, the prosecution will be able to convict him of second-degree murder.

A person often drinks and drives. He is caught drink and driving and so the prosecution convicts him of a DUI and orders him to complete a DUI education program. While at the program, the defendant is advised of the high risk of death that can result from drinking and driving. The defendant is given a Watson statement and signs it. Three years later, he drinks and drives and gets involved in an accident where he kills a person. The prosecution will likely be able to convict him of second-degree murder because he knew that drink and driving is highly likely to cause the death of another person, yet he chose to drink and drive and ended up killing a person.

Felony Murder

In addition to first-degree murder and second degree, the State of California recognizes what is known as felony murder. Felony murder is a charge that can be brought against an individual who commits a dangerous felony that results in the death of another person. The defendant does not need to kill anyone to be convicted of felony murder, so long as a person died while the defendant or his co-conspirators committed an inherently dangerous felony. Dangerous felonies include armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, and torture.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is the most serious form of murder that an individual can be charged with. It is punished more severely than first-degree murder. Capital murder is a murder that’s committed under special circumstances. These circumstances include the following situations:

  • Killing a police officer
  • Killing a person based on their race, religion, or ethnic origin
  • Killing a judge
  • Killing a witness to prevent the witness from testifying in court
  • Killing a firefighter
  • Killing a person for financial gain

Murder Defenses

If you have been charged with murder, there are a number of defenses that your attorney may use to defend you. This list is not exhaustive of all defenses your attorney may make, but rather a list of some of the available defenses. To know which defenses, apply to your case, you should contact an experienced murder defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and fight for you to keep you out of prison.

Here are some defenses to murder charges:

  • The defendant acted in self-defense or the defense of others
  • The defendant killed another person as the result of an accident
  • The defendant was insane at the time he killed another person
  • The defendant is being falsely accused of committing murder
  • The defendant’s confession to murder was coerced or false
  • The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity

There may be a defense that applies to your case that is not listed here. Speak to one of your experienced murder defense attorneys and they will assist you with developing the best defense strategy.

Penalties for Those Convicted of Murder Under CPC 187

If the prosecution convicts a person of murder, the penalties vary depending on whether the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder or second-degree murder.

First Degree Murder

  • 25 years to life in California State Prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Strike under California’s Three Strike’s Law
  • Sentencing enhancement is a gun was used
  • Payment of restitution to victims
  • Loss of your right to own or possess a firearm

Second Degree Murder

  • 15 years to life in California State Prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Strike under California’s Three Strike’s Law
  • Payment of restitution to victims
  • Loss of your right to own or possess a firearm

Capital Murder

  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole
  • Possible death sentence

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with murder, you should immediately contact a California Murder Defense Attorney to defend you and keep you from possibly going to prison for the rest of your life. Our attorneys are aggressive and have the experience necessary to achieve the best possible results for you. So, if you’ve been charged with murder, contact a murder defense lawyer at The H Law Group to defend you and fight for your freedom. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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Act now to protect your legal rights.