January 2, 2019 1:43 pm Published by

When it comes to a murder charge, obviously this is a serious offense and people are looking at a significant amount in custody, and therefore, it’s important that if there is a defense available, we obviously utilize it.  There are various defenses that are not available in every case and they spin on the facts that are associated with the particular case.

Self Defense

For example, one defense would be self-defense.  Somebody attacks you and you defend yourself in a reasonable manner and a death occurs.  You may likely have a self-defense argument. Also, believe it or not, defense of other’s — if you’re defending somebody else and in the defense of that person somebody dies, you potentially have a complete defense based on the defense of others argument.  But of course, whether it be self-defense or defense of others, any defense maneuvers that you take that result in a death — which would probably be deadly force – are going to have to be reasonable.  In other words, you cannot use deadly force to defend yourself or someone else, unless it’s reasonable under the circumstances.

Therein lies the potential defense in a murder case in the San Fernando Valley.  But again, of crucial important is, that whatever you do that results in that death, must be reasonable under the circumstances.  A lot of times these cases are going to have to be resolved by a jury because what’s reasonable to one person may not be reasonable to another.  The prosecutors and police may not agree on some of the facts that you’re utilizing to claim your self-defense or defense of others.

Justifiable Homicide

Another area that goods for a defense when it comes to a murder charge in the San Fernando Valley is a justifiable homicide.  Meaning, a death occurs and whatever occurred and however it occurred, was reasonable under the circumstances.  In other words, maybe there’s an accident.  Maybe somebody’s playing with a gun, for example, it goes off, shoots and kills somebody.

That’s not going to be a murder charge if you can prove that it was an accident because for murder you have to have malice of forethought.  You have to think about it and you have to intentionally try to kill the person.  If a gun accidentally goes off, that would be an example of a complete defense to the crime.  Maybe there’s some sort of negligence that could rise to the level of a crime, but again, whenever you’re talking about a true accident as it relates to a murder charge in the San Fernando Valley that has the potential to be a complete defense to the crime.

These murder charges can get a little bit complicated when you’re talking about defense is because one problem that you have to realize is that typically if the prosecutors filed a murder charge against you or a loved one, they think that person has acted in willful manner and intentionally killed somebody and they don’t believe that there’s any self-defense and they don’t believe the facts and circumstances typically that the defendant is trying to point out.  So, a lot of times what you have is you have an argument about the facts.  In other words, one side is saying, here’s what happened, and the other side is saying, no that didn’t happen, here’s what happened.  Here’s why I did this.

Facts Supporting Your Defense

So, that’s the first thing in a jury trial that you’re going to have to clear up as it relates to a murder case in the San Fernando Valley, and that is the facts that you believe support your defense — whether it be self-defense and, defense of others.

You cannot use deadly force to defend property, so that’s not going to be a defense in a criminal case.  That’s why the old joke goes, if you kill somebody who breaks into your house and you shoot the outside the house, make sure you drag him back in.

Of course, this is a joke.  I would never suggest that anybody do this, but the point there is, if somebody is in your house, you’d be much more likely to win a murder charge if you killed them because if the person was in your house, because you’d be able to argue that you felt that you were in danger.   Versus if somebody’s running away with your TV set for example, you can’t shoot them in the back, that would be unreasonable.  You cannot use deadly force to protect property.

Honest Assessment of Your Case

So, the bottom line is, when it comes to these murder charges in the San Fernando Valley and the defenses related to them, you’re going to need to sit down with somebody like me who’s been doing this for twenty-five years.  We go over everything and I’ll be able to give you an honest assessment about whether or not you actually have a defense that can be successful.  Sometimes people have a defense, but you’re not going to win.  If you’re not going to win, you don’t spend the money to go to trial and you don’t take the risk, typically, of going to trial on a murder case, you need your defense attorney to resolve the case, to negotiate for you.

Negotiation To A Lesser Charge

Now, on these murder cases, because so much is on the line, sometimes even if your defense attorney tries to negotiate and tries to point out maybe an imperfect self-defense which wouldn’t be a complete defense but it might mitigate things down to a lower charge.  Sometimes the prosecutors say no, we’re not going to give your guy anything, in which case you’re going to go to trial anyway.  But when you’re talking about defenses in murder cases, you’re talking about also lesser included offenses.  In other words, somebody may have killed somebody in the heat of passion and that person who killed them was legally provoked by the other party, and maybe that’s not a murder case, that’s a voluntary manslaughter case.

So, even though the person is not guilty of murder, they’re guilty of voluntary manslaughter.  So, in my opinion, that would technically be a defense because you’re basically saying, if a person is not guilty of murder, you should never have charged the murder prosecutors.

Fine, they’re guilty of something.  They shot the person.  They went too far, but they did it because they were in the heat of passion.  Maybe it was some sort of a crime where their significant other was with another person committing adultery.  They reacted to that unreasonably because they were in a very emotional state — in shock — this is another defense to a murder case, and that is a lesser offense applies.  Different than murder.

Another big defense in murder cases is mental state.  Sometimes people are hallucinating.  Sometimes they’re not operating in their right mind when they commit the offense that ends up killing another person.  Sometimes these mental defenses — again, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case — can be used to defend the case.  To either defend the murder charge in the San Fernando Valley or mitigate it down to something less.

If you’re charged with a first, you can mitigate it down to a second because of some mental issues.  Or if you’re just charged with murder, you can mitigate it down to something less than murder because at the time you did not know right from wrong.  You did not have the ability to formulate the intent for purposes of murder.

Consult With Our Criminal Defense Law Firm

So, all these things are potential defenses in a murder case.  The reason I know is because I’ve tried many murder cases over my long career and I’ve used all of these defenses when they were applicable under the circumstances of a particular murder case in any San Fernando Valley Courthouse, including Van Nuys Court, San Fernando Superior Court, Burbank Court. Call us for a case review.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436

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