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The crime of murder is loosely defined as the unlawful killing of a human being by a person who had an intent to kill. It requires, first of all, that a living person be killed. Some jurisdictions still follow the common law rule that for a murder to exist, death must occur within a year and a day after the accused inflicted the fatal wound.
The traditional definition of murder required the murderer to possess a certain intent, known as malice aforethought. No actual hatred, ill will, or spite is required. Under judicial definitions and some statutes, malice aforethought is present under any of the following conditions:
(1) A person intends to kill another, without justification or excuse, and succeeds in doing so. In some jurisdictions, the intent to kill may be inferred from a person's intentional use of a deadly weapon against another.
(2) A person intends to inflict upon another a serious injury short of death, but instead brings about an unintended death.
(3) A person acts in an extremely reckless way that demonstrates a "depraved heart" (moral corruption) or "callous indifference" to the value of human life and, without intending to do so, thereby causes another's death. An example of this so-called depraved-heart murder would be if a person shot a gun into a crowd of people, killing an innocent bystander.
(4) A person causes another's death during the course of committing a felony, and the death was the foreseeable result of the felonious act. Such a killing is known as felony murder. Any accomplice in the commission of the felony might also be guilty of murder. Thus, a robber whose gun accidentally goes off during a robbery and kills the robbery victim is guilty of murder, even though the robber did not intend to kill or do serious injury and this act was not so reckless as to evince a depraved heart. The accused must be found guilty of the underlying felony (in this example, robbery) to be held accountable for the felony murder.
Criminal murder charges are some of the most serious criminal charges. In California murder charges carry long prison perms and limited parole options. Murder cases often require significant resources on the defense. If you are charged with a criminal murder charge, hiring a lawyer as soon as possible will improve the likelihood of a successful case outcome.
In California a criminal murder charge can still qualify for a death penalty sentence. The serious nature of these crimes and the serious nature of the punishments make it very important to secure quality and trusted legal representation. Attorney Search Network pre-screens all panel member attorneys for years in practice, trial experience, insurance and a clean record with the California State Bar Association. Attorney Search Network can also give you helpful advice on important questions and considerations when hiring a criminal defense attorney. Call today.
If you have any questions about the information provided above, please call (800) 215-1190 or contact Attorney Search Network.