Attempted Murder Defense in Los Angeles

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingApr 08, 2021

I've been defending attempted murder cases for almost 30 years in the Los Angeles County courthouses, such as Van Nuys court, San Fernando court, and the other courthouses in the greater Los Angeles area and the San Fernando Valley.

The best defense is someone who understands the law related to attempted murder and is a powerful advocate for their client. They can research and investigate and then attack the prosecutor's case so that they cannot prove an attempted murder charge. That's certainly one aspect of defending an attempted murder case defined under California Penal Code 664.187. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will cover this topic below.

The prosecutors have to prove that somebody tried to kill another human being, and the person they have charged with it is the one who did it. There might be issues with either one or both of those elements of proving an attempted murder case.

Then, an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the local courts and knows how to deal with an attempted murder case in a jury trial setting will attack those issues and point out to the jury why the prosecutor hasn't proved the case.

Sometimes you have a situation where somebody is defending themselves because another person attacks them and claiming self-defense or defense of another person. Therefore, they're not guilty of the alleged attempted murder charge. Other times, it's an identification or a “who done it” situation; meaning, the person they're claiming is the one involved in the attempted murder is indicating they are not the one who did it.

Even though somebody might have been an actual victim of an attempted murder case, the person that they're charging is the wrong person.

Building a Defense Strategy

So, you have to evaluate your particular case.  The first thing I'm looking at and talking about with a client is, do we have a defense to the charge of attempted murder in Los Angeles? If we do, then we start to build the case, and we prepare to defend the case and try it:

  • first at the preliminary hearing, which is an essential stage of the proceedings, and
  • then at the jury trial level.

If we don't have a defense, if the prosecution has the evidence in the case, and that happens a lot, because if you think about it, why would they file the case if they didn't have some evidence. So, if they've got the evidence, then what we're doing is trying to mitigate the circumstances a lot of times.

Negotiation for Lesser Charges or Case Dismissal

For example, I tried to avoid an attempted murder charge and get something different — a charge less severe than attempted murder.  For example, assault with a deadly weapon.

Los Angeles attempted murder defense lawyer

That would be a lesser charge than attempted murder, or attempted voluntary manslaughter is another lesser charge to attempted murder. Attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation carries with it 15 to life.  That's not the charge you want to deal with if you face a criminal case.

So, pick up the phone.  Not all cases are the same.  We're going to decide what type of case you have and what the best defense is that will make sense for you, your family, your job, your loved ones, your future — ask to speak to Ron Hedding. One of the goals is to come up with a plan so you can stay out of jail.

Set up a meeting with me.  I've been doing this a long time.  I first worked for the prosecutors in the early 1990s. Then I worked for a Superior Court Judge as I built my skill set to be able to defend somebody like you, and in 1994, I became a criminal defense attorney.

I've never looked back.  I've defended thousands of clients in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and many clients who were accused of attempted murder. We've won jury trials; I've negotiated lesser pleas. 

It depends on your case.  It depends on what the prosecutors can prove, what they can't prove, and what you and I decide is the best course of action.

How to Get the Best Result in an Attempted Murder Case?

California Penal Code 664/187 PC attempted murder is a very serious crime.  Usually, if the prosecutors are going to file it, I would say 95% of the time, they're also going to attach premeditation and deliberation to it, making it a 15-to-life crime if you get convicted. 

Meaning if you get convicted of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, the judge has to at least give you 15 to life.  If any other charges or enhancements are attached, the judge could give you even more time.  So, figuring out how to get the best result is all important.

I've been handling these cases now for 30 years.  I started out working for the prosecutors, then a superior court judge. Then, in the early 1990s, I began to defend people at the criminal defense level for attempted murder cases. 

Lack of Intent

When trying to get the best result, the most significant area they usually attack in an attempted murder case is to say that the defendant did not have the specific intent to kill the victim. Sometimes there could be a mental defense where the person can't form the specific intent to kill. For example, let's say someone's drunk and gets mad. 

Alcohol is usually not a defense in California.  They call that voluntary intoxication.  However, when it comes to a specific intent crime, like attempted murder, alcohol can be used, as can drugs or anything else that alters your ability to formulate the clear intent to kill as a defense.

So, that's one big angle we use all the time.  We say, look, whatever happened here, this person was not trying to kill the other person, and therefore, you can't convict him for attempted murder. Maybe it's Penal Code 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon, as an example, because that's a general attempt crime, and obviously, the punishment for that is much less. 

Review of the Possible Defenses

Another angle that we use, and again, you have to look at the specific facts in the case, is that the person that is being accused is not the one who should be being charged. Somebody else is the one that committed the attempted murder charge.  And then, of course, you have self-defense, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Then, finally, if your client is going to be able to be proven guilty, and that's one of the big things we decide when we meet:

  • whether we're going to fight the case through a preliminary hearing and a trial, or
  • whether it's the type of case we need to mitigate things, get character letters, and get angles to show the prosecutors that they might have some problems with their case.

That's why many times in these attempted murder cases, I will do the preliminary hearing to damage the prosecutor's case if there's available evidence that we can use to attack their case.

As you can see, many different angles can be used to get the best result in these types of cases.  The key is sitting down with a seasoned criminal defense attorney and figuring out the best strategy for your specific case. 

So, if you or a loved one is charged with attempted murder and everything is on the line, you need the best.  You've come to the right place.  Let my 30 years of experience work for you.  Pick up the phone now and set up a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.