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Excusable Homicide: Its Meaning and How to Use It

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on October 30, 2023

In the complex and sensitive matter of homicide, several state laws may come into play. One legal concept that deserves attention is excusable homicide. It is essential to understand the concept of self-defense generally, the legal criteria behind excusable homicide, potential defenses, consequences, and how skilled criminal defense attorneys approach excusable homicide in their work.

What Constitutes Excusable Homicide?

Excusable homicide refers to a category of homicide that is considered justifiable under the California Penal Code (“Cal. Pen. Code”) § 195, which provides that:

“Homicide is excusable in the following cases:

  1. When committed by accident and misfortune, or in doing any other lawful act by lawful means, with usual and ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent.
  2. When committed by accident and misfortune, in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, when no undue advantage is taken, nor any dangerous weapon used, and when the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.”

Under California Penal Code § 195, certain circumstances may lead to the classification of a homicide as excusable. These circumstances include:

  • Self-defense: When a person acts in self-defense to protect themselves from imminent harm or death, the resulting homicide may be deemed excusable.
  • Defense of others: Similarly, if someone acts to protect another person from harm or death, and the use of lethal force is necessary, the homicide may be excused.
  • Accidents: Accidental killings that occur without criminal negligence can also be categorized as excusable homicides.

For a homicide to be classified as excusable, specific key elements must be present. These elements revolve around factors such as the perceived threat, the necessity of lethal force, and the absence of criminal intent.

Legal Defenses and Strategies

In cases of excusable homicide, several legal defenses and strategies can be employed to protect the accused. These include:

  • Castle Doctrine: The Castle Doctrine allows individuals to use lethal force to defend their home or property if they believe an intruder poses a threat.
  • Stand your ground laws: Some jurisdictions have “stand your ground” laws that permit individuals to use force, including deadly force, to defend themselves without a duty to retreat from a threatening situation. Importantly, California does not have a traditional “stand your ground” law that mirrors other jurisdictions.
  • Reasonable belief: Self-defense laws in California allow individuals to use force in self-defense if they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect themselves or others from harm.

Consequences and Legal Process

Understanding the potential legal consequences and the criminal justice process surrounding excusable homicide is crucial. If you find yourself facing such a situation, you may encounter:

  • Investigations: Law enforcement agencies will conduct thorough investigations to determine the circumstances of the incident.
  • Charges: Depending on the investigation’s findings, charges may be filed against the accused.
  • Court proceedings: Legal proceedings, including trials, will follow, where evidence will be presented and legal arguments made.

How Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

Navigating the sophisticated legal issues of excusable homicide charges requires the sophistication of a skilled and experienced Los Angeles homicide defense lawyer who understands the nuances of this legal concept.

At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have a team of seasoned attorneys who can provide you with a comprehensive case evaluation. We will investigate the facts, gather evidence, and build a custom-crafted defense strategy tailored to your circumstances.

Top-Tier Defense at Your Service

Choose Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP as your legal allies, and you’ll benefit from our extensive experience. Our Los Angeles attorneys are known for handling high-profile cases with favorable outcomes.

Call us at (213) 688-0460 for a free initial consultation. Let us stand by your side and help you navigate your case.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense