Los Angeles Murder Attorneys
Being accused of murder is one of the most serious charges a person can possibly face. Even before law enforcement questions you, it’s important to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Your best option immediately following an arrest is to say as little to the police as possible and call an experienced lawyer the moment you are allowed to.
Retaining an experienced murder defense attorney is the first step in securing your rights. If you decide to take part in police interviews without the help of an attorney, even the slightest of details might be used to help strengthen the case being built against you. In a murder investigation, the police are not on your side; neither are the courts or the prosecuting attorney. Only your attorney is there to fight for you and make sure you are properly defended.
From the moment you think you might be a suspect, it’s best to consult with an attorney who can help make sense of the situation. If you are currently facing a murder charge, immediately call the Los Angeles violent crime attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to protect your rights and help secure a better case outcome.
A murder charge is not something that is convicted lightly, as murder has a very specific definition that must be met. In California, murder is generally defined as the “unlawful killing” of a person with “malice aforethought.” There are two primary ways that murder is charged in California, with both being categorized as felonies:
- First-Degree Murder – First-degree murder is when someone is accused of killing another person using an explosive, poison, or certain types of ammunition; by lying in wait or by inflicting torture; in a way that is willful, deliberate, and premeditated; or based on the felony-murder rule. A conviction for first-degree murder has a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
- Second-Degree Murder – In general, second-degree murder covers anything not included in the definition of first-degree murder. This is a murder that is still considered willful but not premeditated. A conviction for second-degree murder carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
There is also a special type of murder charge in California referred to as “capital murder” or “first-degree murder with special circumstances.” These are crimes that are considered especially egregious, and as such, they carry a harsher penalty. This type of charge is a first-degree murder charge that is accompanied by the following circumstances: murder for financial gain, the murder of a police officer or elected official, or murdering a witness to prevent him or her from testifying in court. A conviction for this type of charge is punishable by the death penalty, also called capital punishment, or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A murder charge, whether it be first or second-degree, is serious enough on its own. There are many other factors that could aggravate the charge and lead to a longer prison sentence if you are convicted. These factors are just as important to defend against as the charge itself, as they can easily turn a judge or jury against you. Some common aggravating factors include:
- If you have been convicted of murder in the past
- If there were other accompanying crimes, such as arson, robbery, or rape
- If the alleged murder involved poison
- If the alleged murder involved explosive material
- If the alleged murder involved torture
- If the alleged victim was a member of law enforcement
- If you are found to be a member of a gang
These kinds of factors could lead to further charges, such as robbery or arson, or they could simply allow for your sentence to be lengthened. People who face murder charges are already unlikely to garner much sympathy from the judge or the jury, as such an act, whether true or not, is considered unimaginably evil by most people. With aggravating factors added in, it is even less likely that you will get the judge or jury on your side. That is why hiring an expert legal defense team is imperative.
A murder charge is extremely serious, and an effective defense against such a charge requires an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Although the specific plan for a defense depends on the details and nature of what happened, many defenses seek to prove that what happened does not fit the definition of murder.
For example, if it can be shown that there was no premeditation, such as when a death occurs in an accidental way or in a moment of sudden rage, then it cannot be first-degree murder. It can also be argued that while a defendant did kill another person, it was done as an act of self-defense and so it was not an “unlawful killing,” which is required for a murder conviction. A defense attorney can also work to show that a defendant was never even present at the scene of the incident, or that evidence may have been tainted in some way, thus altering the details of the case. Some of our most common murder defenses also include:
- Mistaken identity, as in you are not the murderer
- You were defending someone else
- The alleged killing was inadvertent
- The arrest was unlawful
- The alleged victim provoked you into violence
- There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the murderer
Properly defending against a murder charge is no easy task. The prosecution takes murder charges incredibly seriously and is unlikely to go to court without proper evidence and an airtight case. Difficult does not mean impossible, however. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to construct the perfect defense for your case.
Do not try to defend yourself against a murder charge and do not agree to an interview or interrogation with police without an attorney present. If you believe you are a suspect in an investigation and the police want to interview you, or you have been formally charged with a murder offense, call the attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to discuss the details of your situation and start building the strongest defense possible for your case.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.