In California, homicide, or murder, is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus (legal abortion procedures are an exception), with malice aforethought. Malice in this case means a deliberate intention to unlawfully take away the life of a fellow-creature. Malice is implied when no considerable provocation appears, or when the circumstances surrounding the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.


The Penalties for Homicide in Orange County CA

Homicide is a serious crime in California and comes with some serious penalties, including death. The penalties for homicide/murder in California include:

First-degree murder

The punishment for being found guilty of murder in the first degree in California can include death, imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life. A  first-degree murder that is ruled to be a hate crime is imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole.

In some instances, first-degree murder can be bumped up to a capital offense. This means the defendant could be sentenced to death. Examples of capital offenses include first-degree murders committed:

  • For financial gain
  • Using explosives
  • While evading arrest
  • From a moving vehicle
  • While lying in wait
  • Using poison
  • During a robbery
  • Involving torture
  • Involving multiple murders

Second-degree murder

The punishment for being found guilty of murder in the second degree in California is imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life. Sentencing can be enhanced to 20 years to life if the killing was perpetrated by means of shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle; 25 years to life, without the possibility of parole, if the victim was a peace officer.

Voluntary manslaughter

A defendant who commits homicide may also be charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is a homicide in which no premeditation was involved, such as when somebody loses their temper during an argument. A conviction for voluntary manslaughter could mean up to eleven years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Involuntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant is accused of killing someone accidentally, without premeditation or malice. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter charges could mean up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Factors That Determine Sentencing For Homicide in California

The court takes many factors into account when determining punishment for homicide. These include:

  • The circumstances of the crime.
  • The presence or absence of criminal activity by the defendant involved the use or attempted use of force or violence or the express or implied threat to use force or violence.
  • Prior felony convictions.
  • Whether or not the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time the offense was committed.
  • Whether or not the victim was a participant in the defendant’s homicidal conduct or consented to the homicidal act.
  • Whether or not the offense was committed under circumstances which the defendant reasonably believed to be a moral justification or extenuation for his or her conduct.
  • Whether or not the defendant was acting under extreme duress or under the substantial domination of another person when the offense was committed.
  • Whether or not the defendant was impaired as a result of mental disease or defect, or the effects of intoxication at the time of the offense.
  • The age of the defendant when the crime occurred.
  • Whether or not the defendant was an accomplice to the offense and their participation in the crime was relatively minor.
  • Any other circumstance that may extenuate the gravity of the crime even though it is not a legal excuse for the crime.

Orange County CA Homicide Defense Attorney Jim Tanizaki is Ready to Fight for Your Life

There are few criminal charges more serious than homicide. The penalties are severe –  you may even be sentenced to death. If you’ve been charged with first-degree murder, a capital offense, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter in Orange County you need exceptional legal representation.

Orange County, CA homicide defense lawyer Jim Tanizaki is a former county DA turned criminal defense attorney. This unique background gives him an advantage most criminal defense attorneys simply don’t possess. He knows the tactics the state will use in order to get a conviction. There are many defense strategies that can be used in a murder trial including:

  • Self-defense
  • Defending your home or property
  • Defending other people
  • Insanity
  • Accident
  • Mistaken identity

No matter how grim the situation looks, always remember that you’re innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Being arrested isn’t the same as being convicted. Don’t wait to seek legal help – you could literally be fighting for your life if you’ve been arrested on homicide charges in California. Contact the law offices Orange County, CA murder defense lawyer Jim Tanizaki using our website or call us at (714) 655-7633 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.