In California, an individual may be charged with murder even when someone else is killed accidentally, if the death occurs as a result of the commission of a felony crime. Essentially, California murder law dictates that without the element of "malice aforethought," you cannot be convicted of murder. However, the felony murder rule is an exception to the normal rules governing murder in the state. If you have been arrested or charged with murder after committing a felony crime in which someone was killed, it is imperative you speak with a criminal defense attorney at The Justice Firm immediately.
You may face charges of first-degree murder when someone loses his or her life during the commission or even the attempted commission of a serious felony crime. These crimes may include, but are not limited to burglary, robbery, kidnapping, rape, carjacking, sodomy, mayhem, or child molestation. Ultimately, you may be charged with first-degree murder rather than the underlying felony crime which resulted in someone's death.
A quick example of felony murder: Two individuals rob a bank, one of them armed with a handgun. One of the individuals fires the gun to frighten the teller into cooperating, not intending to strike the teller. The bullet ricochets off a wall and strikes someone else in the room, killing that person. Not only may the individual who fired the gun be charged with murder, the other individual may be charged with murder as well under the felony murder rule.Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer for Felony Murder
Unlike with a typical murder charge, under the felony-murder rule the prosecutor is not required to demonstrate the accused individual acted with malice. There are basically two reasons the felony-murder rule was created and exists under California law today. First, the rule was designed to deter those who commit felony crimes from killing others in the commission of the crime. Second, lawmakers hoped the rule would deter individuals from committing a felony crime altogether. In other words, felony offenses such as burglary, robbery, kidnapping, etc. would be reduced.
As seasoned Los Angeles murder defense lawyers, we understand the shock an individual may face when charged with murder rather than burglary, arson, or other felony offense. Perhaps you were involved in the felony crime, or are completely innocent of all charges against you. Regardless, it is crucial to obtain the services of a skilled and capable attorney. Your freedom, reputation, and career are in jeopardy; we work vigorously to protect you from a conviction, having charges dismissed or reduced when possible.California Penalties for Murder Under the Felony-Murder Rule
The penalties for a conviction of felony murder are basically the same as those for non-felony. You may be charged with first- or second-degree murder, depending on the felony crime you committed or attempted to commit when the killing took place.
If convicted on charges of first-degree murder, you may be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison, life in prison without parole, or even the death penalty. Life in prison without the possibility of parole and the death penalty are only imposed if the felony qualifies as a "special circumstances murder" as listed in Penal Code 189.
A conviction for second-degree murder will result in penalties which include 15 years to life in prison. The sentence may increase to 25 years to life if the victim who died was a peace officer.Contact The Justice Firm Immediately
Murder is the most serious crime you can be accused of committing, regardless of whether it was non-intentional or an accident, as is often the case in felony crimes. Without a talented Los Angeles felony murder lawyer to closely scrutinize your case and work with you to develop the most effective legal strategy, your very freedom and life hang in the balance.
Contact us immediately for a free consultation by calling 310-914-2444.