What are the Best Defenses to Murder Charges in Los Angeles?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingSep 18, 2023

If you or a loved one is charged with California Penal Code 187 PC murder, many different offenses can be asserted in these cases.  Of course, every single defense is not applicable in all murder cases. 

You've got to look at the facts and the circumstances of what happened in the case and talk to an attorney with a lot of experience.  You also have to look at what makes sense for your particular case.

For example, your case could be a “who did it” issue, meaning they don't know who exactly committed the murder or think you or your loved one committed the murder, but the evidence is thin on identity. 

Maybe it depends on an eyewitness identifying the person.  Maybe there's a video.  Maybe there's circumstantial evidence that a particular person committed a murder.

So, if the case is a who did it, we want to marshal all of our ammunition to defend it, towards investigating who the potential shooter might be, for example.  Look at exactly what evidence they have that proves that a particular person is involved, and obviously, try to refute that evidence – get other evidence to attack that.

Use of Defense Experts

There are several different things.  Sometimes, we get identification experts to say that a particular witness who might be identifying somebody has it wrong. 

They didn't get it right, and why they didn't get it right?  So, that's one example of a defense: I'm not the person who committed the murder, and you haven't proved it sufficiently beyond a reasonable doubt to get the conviction.


Another defense to a murder charge is self-defense.  If somebody attacks you and you defend yourself, they use deadly force against you, you respond in kind, and the other person passes away, you may well have a defense of self-defense.  Of course, we have to again look at the surrounding facts.  What happened? 

If two people get in a fight and one person uses their fist and the other person uses a gun and kills the other person, the person that used the weapon will have a tough road to claim self-defense. 

In other words, the force they used to defend themselves, arguably, was too much.  The force is half the match.  In other words, fist to fist, weapon to weapon.

It can't be a scenario where somebody is just using their hands, and another person is using a weapon unless there are facts that support the argument that it's an even match based on prior incidences between the parties, based on the fact that it's two on one – whatever the case may be.  So, self-defense is applicable related to murder charges.

Physical Evidence

Other murder cases I've done center around expert testimony and things like the following:

  • DNA,
  • Fingerprints, and
  • Cellphone evidence.

Now, you sometimes have a battle between your attorney and the expert, or you can also hire an expert if it makes sense to try to refute the evidence they have related to DNA, fingerprints, cellphone pinging – whatever evidence they're trying to use to connect the person. 

So, that may be a battle of the experts.  For example, the fact that they're claiming that someone's phone is pinging at specific locations doesn't necessarily mean they're the ones who committed the murder. Cellphone ping evidence is not 100% accurate. 

So, you start to understand some defenses you can use in a murder case.  Also, many of these defenses are particular to the facts and circumstances in which you or your loved one find yourselves. 

What Are the Common Mistakes?

Murder is the most severe crime known in the criminal defense field.  So, one big mistake that I see people make is going cheap. They pick an attorney who is not very expensive and a lot of times, they end up with a horrible result.  So, I'm getting phone calls because people want to appeal. After all, their loved one got convicted and sentenced to many years in prison.

I can tell you right now, as far as I'm concerned, it's too late at that point.  You need to get an attorney right away; it has to be somebody who has experience and knows how to fight.  Even if your loved one is guilty, you want to get somebody to try to negotiate the case to get the best possible resolution. 

If they're not guilty, then obviously, that's when you need the best attorney you can find because I can tell you right now, if you make the mistake of hiring a cheap attorney, one that doesn't have experience, one that you see haven't done cases before, doesn't have the background you need, not only are you going to end up with a horrible result, you're going to end up paying more money anyway because once you see them do the preliminary hearing.

The prosecutors and police put their best people in these murder cases.  Because there was a loss of life and they have to answer to the public, they're going to put robbery/homicide on the case.  They're going to put top-level prosecutors with experience.  So, you're going to have to match that.  Don't make the mistake of thinking that all lawyers are created equal.  They're not.  So, you'd better hire the best.

Don't get an inexperienced attorney; don't try to do things yourself.  You're not going to investigate the case yourself.  You're not going to talk to witnesses yourself, and you won't get the game plan and strategy together.  You've got to let an attorney do that. I'm going to speak to the prosecutor and judge and see what their position is. If they're offering you 25 years on the case and your exposure is 25 years, that case is going to trial because win, lose, or draw will be the same unless you can get a not-guilty verdict and get out of the case.

Case Review

So, we have to sit down and go over the whole case, such as the following:

  • Talk about what type of investigation might help us make our defense stronger
  • Decide whether it makes sense to take the case to trial or
  • It's a situation where some sort of plea negotiation must take place to resolve the case.

Perhaps we can get something less than murder, like involuntary manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon.  Again, it has to make sense of what happened.

So, if you need the best – if you or your loved one is charged with murder, you're looking for defense and are trying to figure out what you can do to put yourself in the best possible position.

Then, let someone like me, who's worked for the district attorney's office – the entity that fights these murder charges and tries to convict the person.

I've also worked for a superior court judge who will rule over the case. Since the early 1990s, I've been a criminal defense attorney, and my second case, when I was 27 years old, was a murder charge that I got a not-guilty verdict on.

I know how to handle these types of defenses.  If you need the best, pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case evaluation.

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