Justia Lawyer Rating
American Board of Trial Advocates
The State Bar of California
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Los Angeles County Bar Association
AV Preeminent


The taking of life of a human being by a rational or sensible person with malice, intent, aforethought (a deliberate intent to kill a specific victim or any individual who gets in the way) and with no authority or lawful excuse to do so. First degree murder is defined by these clear elements. Many states' statutes define first-degree murder as a killing which involves kidnapping (moving an individual prior to killing), torture, the taking of life of a prison guard or police officer, or as an additional offense committed during another crime (such as rape or armed robbery), when malice is presumed and regardless of premeditation.

Second-degree murder is considered the taking of a life without premeditation, as would be the case when an individual is killed during a sudden quarrel, or in the heat of passion. Malice may be implied in second-degree murder when an incident such as firing a weapon into a crowd or striking an individual with a deadly weapon indicates a thoughtless lack of regard for others' lives.

Depending on various factors and state laws, an individual may be charged with first- or second-degree murder when he/she did not personally take someone's life, but was involved with someone else (a partner) who actually killed someone, or caused someone to lose his/her life as a result of the criminal offense.

For instance: A hold-up takes place in a liquor store; in the process of the crime, a clerk fires a gun at the perpetrator (the armed robber) in defense, and consequently kills a customer in the store. The perpetrator (armed robber) may be charged with second-degree murder, and convicted of the offense.

When an individual does not die of his/her injuries immediately, he or she must die within a one-year period of the incident/attack that ultimately led to death for the person who caused the injuries to be charged with murder. Under the law, abortion is not murder. The death of an unborn baby when the fetus is active (moving) may be considered murder, providing there was no legal authority, but malice and premeditation were factors. For instance, Jim Lowery shoots his girlfriend who is pregnant in the stomach, killing the fetus. Both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter lack the malice aforethought element.

In the state of California, a conviction for first-degree murder may result in punishment that includes life in prison without parole.  In some instances, the defendant may even face the death penalty.  At a minimum, a conviction for first-degree murder will result in 25 years in prison.  Additionally, 10, 20, or 25 years could be added to the sentence you receive if a firearm was used in committing murder.  A strike on your criminal record is also a possibility under California's 'Three Strikes' law.  Fines and restitution are also possible penalties you may face.

Contact The Justice Firm Immediately

It is critical to have a skilled and experienced Los Angeles murder attorney on your side when you have been arrested or are under investigation for murder.  Your constitutional rights must be protected, and a vigorous defense strategy developed in order to protect your freedom, reputation, and future.  We know that prosecutors use all of their influence and resources in their efforts to secure a conviction.  Our familiarity with all of the proceedings and how prosecutors work make our firm even more effective in protecting clients from a conviction and the resulting consequences.  We urge you to contact The Justice Firm now for a free consultation at 310-914-2444.

Southern California Criminal Lawyer Blog - Murder
Client Reviews
I moved to another state and missed court. They issued a warrant. I called the Justice Firm and spoke to Joe Virgilio and he was very helpful. The they were able to get the warrant removed and fixed it so I got probation and could go back to work. Neal R.
My mom called the Justice Firm. I had a public defender who was pushing me to take a bad deal. My new attorney Mr Browning was able to get my case dismissed. They also gave me a number for a bondsman who gave a great price so I could get out and get back to work. Carlos G.
My son had the lawyers at the Justice Firm represent him. They were really good. Mr. Hunt always calls me back to answer my questions and let me know what is going on. We have referred several people to them over he last few years and they all thank me for it. They work with the district attorneys to get good results. Rick Q.