For twenty-five years now, I’ve handled murder cases throughout the San Fernando Valley courthouses. This includes the courthouse of San Fernando, Van Nuys, Pasadena, Glendale, Malibu, which has now been transferring all the cases to the LAX court, and these cases are treated very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors and judges. They typically put the best police officers and detectives on investigating these cases and they will spend unlimited funds to do so. Further, there are special prosecutors who are assigned murder cases and they obviously are usually more experienced than a regular prosecutor in the criminal courts in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles County.
When I defend these cases, there’s a kind of a multi-prong approach that I take. First, I want to know about my client, his life, what led him or her to become involved in the situation. I really get a full background of the individual. Sometimes I will use a psychologist or psychiatrist to author a report related to my client in whatever issues I feel are relevant either to help defend the case or to use the report in some way if there is any mental defense in the case and there are a bunch of mental defenses when it comes to a murder case. I’ve had success with insanity defenses. I’ve had defense with people being intoxicated and not being able to form the intent necessary for a specific murder case. Of course, voluntary intoxication is only relevant and viable as a defense in California if the defense can show that the defendant is charged with a specific intent crime that the voluntary intoxication inhibited or blocked the defendant from being able to form the specific intent to kill, for example, when it comes to murder or attempted murder. These defenses are a bit complicated and don’t apply to every case and really have to be evaluated and looked at on a case-by-case basis when it comes to a murder charge in the San Fernando Valley.
How Do Juries In The San Fernando Valley Handle Murder Cases?
I would say from my years of experience in defending and trying cases in front of juries that the San Fernando Valley courthouses have very conservative jurors. A lot of them are retired, older and have a very dim view of people who are committing violent felonies. That said, since the jury service has gone to a one-day service where most people are ordered to be involved in jury service and it’s more difficult to escape jury service, the general person in the public in the San Fernando Valley, I think that has eased up the conservatism as it relates to trying to defend these murder cases in the San Fernando Valley because a much larger pool has now become available to the defense when it comes to these murder charges.
So, when it comes to a murder charge and a jury pool and how to handle the voir dire which is basically the question and answer element of picking a jury where jurors are asked by the judge questions about their fairness and capability to serve, and then the attorneys are given an opportunity to ask questions during the voir dire in one of these murder cases in the San Fernando Valley, and this really – if done the right way – can give you a good feel for how conservative and how fair the jury is going to be when it comes to a murder case. A lot of jurors come into these murder cases in the San Fernando Valley already believing that the person is guilty simply because they’re charged with a murder case and because the prosecutors have filed charges against them. This is up to the defense attorney to make it clear that just because somebody is charged with a murder case doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re guilty.
One of the first steps that I take is no. 1, identifying those jurors who are going to already be biased against my client just because he or she is charged with murder in the San Fernando Valley and they probably live in the San Fernando Valley. So, making it clear to them that our criminal justice system is one of the best and most fair in the world and part of the reason for that is because a person is presumed innocent unless the prosecutors can prove otherwise. So, in the beginning of a case, if they’re asked to vote on whether the person is innocent or guilty, they would have to vote innocent because they haven’t heard any of the evidence yet and the person is presumed innocent of the murder charge and to presume otherwise would violate the law, violate their duties as a juror and just would not be fair, and they wouldn’t want one of their family members or even themselves prosecuted and dealt with in an unfair manner where people are already assuming they’re guilty before they hear any of the evidence in a murder case.
What Are Some Ways People Can Be Charged With Murder In The San Fernando Valley?
Well, believe it or not, there’s many different angles and many different fact patterns that can come up that can trigger a murder charge. For example, in today’s society, as I write this post, anybody drinking or driving with alcohol in their system who kills another person is going to be charged with second-degree murder. That’s the first thing the prosecutors do. A lot of times I’ve been able to get a not guilty verdict on the murder charge, and some lesser charge if the person was drinking and driving and killed somebody, or even convince the prosecutors to offer a resolution that does not include a murder conviction, but of course, include fifteen to life. So, this is one way you can be charged with murder. It’s happening more and more as the prosecutors realize that everybody in society should know that when you drink and drive people can die and that’s why they’re charging murder instead of some sort of vehicular manslaughter charge.
Another way you could be charged with murder is if obviously, you plan a murder. This would be a first-degree murder charge, or even if you solicit a murder – meaning that you either hire someone or convince them to kill another person – that solicitation of murder could be charged as murder in the San Fernando Valley just as though you actually committed the murder yourself.
As far as the difference between first and second-degree murder, it really has to do with planning and deliberating and really thinking about killing someone and then putting the plan in motion versus someone who becomes angry during a sudden quarrel and kills someone. Then the issue is going to be, is that more of a voluntary manslaughter or some other charge versus a murder charge in the San Fernando Valley and this is going to boil down to whether the person under the circumstances really had time to think about killing another person. The thought process can be quick even for purposes of second-degree murder as far as planning things and making a quick decision to kill another person, but the best criminal defense attorneys know how to defend these second-degree murder cases and know exactly what it takes to win these cases.
I would say most of the rest of the murder cases that are charged in the San Fernando Valley or at least over the course of the last twenty-five years I’ve been practicing really are fact-specific and have to do with domestic violence situations, people trying to commit other crimes like robbery or burglary and a death occurring and then the felony-murder rule triggering, so if someone dies during the course of a robbery for example – and it was foreseeable to the people who planned the robbery and were involved in it – then they can be charged with murder pursuant to the felony-murder rule even though that didn’t necessarily plan to kill somebody.
So, there’s a number of different theories and a number of different ways when you look at the totality of the circumstances of a case that someone can be charged with murder in the San Fernando Valley. If you or a loved one is charged with murder, you should get to an attorney that has handled these cases, knows the local San Fernando Valley court system and knows how to win the case or at least get a lesser charge.
For more information on Defending A Murder Charge In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.