Los Angeles Attempted Murder Lawyers
Legal Defense Against Attempted Murder Charges in Los Angeles
In California, attempted murder is a crime in which no one was killed. It combines elements of the crime of attempting to commit a crime (at Penal Code Section 664) and the crime of murder (at Penal Code Section 187). There are two different degrees of attempted murder:
- In the first degree, the offense was attempted and willful. For example, the defendant shot someone repeatedly with the intent to kill, but the victim somehow survived.
- In the second degree, it includes all other forms of attempted murder. For example, the act was involuntary, or it was not premeditated.
What Must the Prosecution Prove to Get an Attempted Murder Conviction?
Under California law, attempted murder is defined as attempting but failing to kill another person. The elements of this crime that the prosecution must prove are:
- The defendant took a direct step toward killing another human being. This requires not only planning but also moving it forward into action. For example, buying a gun or knife does not qualify as a direct step in an attempted murder case.
- There was malice aforethought – the defendant intended to kill the other person. It is not enough for the prosecution to prove an intent to injure or maim. It must show an actual intent to kill. Location of the injuries plays an important role in this element of the crime. As vital organs such as the heart and brain are located in the upper body, injuries to the upper body tend to indicate intent to murder, while injuries to the lower body are more indicative of intent to injure.
What If There Was No Intent to Kill?
If a person commits an act that is inherently dangerous to human life and sufficiently reckless to show indifference to the value of life, and someone is killed as a result, the person who committed that act can be charged with murder. This applies even if he or she had no intention to kill or to hurt anyone. With attempted murder, this is not the case. For a person to be convicted, the law requires a specific intent to kill.
What Are the Possible Defenses to Attempted Murder Charges?
Legal defenses against charges of attempted murder are typically focused on invalidating the prosecution’s evidence as to the elements of the crime, particularly specific intent to kill. The possible defenses could include:
- No specific intent to kill: The defendant may have acted in an attempt to frighten or injure the victim, but not to kill. Attempted murder is a specific intent crime. Without specific intent, the crime did not occur.
- Self-defense: This involves establishing that the alleged victim was actually the initial aggressor, and the degree of force used by the defendant was necessary to protect the defendant’s life.
- Mistaken identity: The defendant may physically resemble the person who actually committed the crime or may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If a defense attorney can raise reasonable doubt, the charges may be dropped.
- False accusations: The alleged victim may have falsely accused the defendant. If a criminal defense lawyer can reveal a motivation to lie, it could undermine the accuser’s credibility.
- No direct step: Even if the defendant had a plan in place to kill someone, if he or she failed to put the plan into action, or had not yet done so, the defendant did not commit attempted murder.
If you are facing attempted murder charges in California, contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460. There is no charge for an initial consultation. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have an impressive track record of success representing the accused in challenging criminal cases.
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Phone: (213) 688-0460
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