New Felony Murder Rule in California

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingMay 01, 2023

When is someone responsible for a California Penal Code 187 PC murder under the new felony murder rule? The felony murder rule has gotten much attention recently.

New Felony Murder Rule in California

The reason why is that many people have been convicted of murder which is undisputed is not the person that committed the murder. Instead, they were convicted because they were somehow involved with the murder.

They were present, the driver, and they helped during the murder – so the felony murder rule in the past was able to get them liability and responsibility. So, therefore, they went down as harshly many times as the actual killer did.

They have now modified the felony murder rule, so you see many people trying to come back who were sent away for long prison sentences under the felony murder rule.

It certainly applies in new felony filings where someone should not be held responsible for the murder under the felony murder rule.

Substantial Participant

Now, the prosecutors must show, to get somebody for murder, that the person was actually the shooter, for example.  They caused the killing, or they have to show that they were somehow a substantial participant. There are a bunch of different factors that make somebody a substantial participant in a murder, such as the following:

  • if you're involved in the planning,
  • if you're present,
  • if you're assisting,
  • if you played a significant role,
  • if you don't do anything to thwart the murder,
  • if you're in on the original plan.

Before, if it was just foreseeable that a murder could occur and you got involved, you'd often be captured under the felony murder rule.

Retain a Defense Lawyer

So, if you or a loved one is charged with murder and they are using the felony murder rule to prosecute you, you want to get an attorney to fight for you because if you weren't the actual killer, there's a good chance we can avoid a life sentence. 

We can avoid the 25 to life that goes along with first-degree murder; avoid the 15 to life that goes along with second-degree murder. So many times, we can resolve these cases.

Sometimes we can even beat them because mere presence at a crime is not in and of itself a crime.  You have to help, aid, or abet in some way to be linked to the crime, especially if you're not the one who killed the other person.

Determining the Best Defense Strategy

So, the family will often search out an attorney because their relative is on high bail, like $2 million, for the murder. So, we'll sit down and talk and go over everything. 

If you decide to retain me, I'll then go out to see your loved one.  I'll get all the paperwork and the discovery in the case, go over and speak to the prosecutor and see their position, and then start the ball rolling in trying to defend your loved one from these severe charges.

If you need the best, you've come to the right place.  I've been defending murder cases now for 30 years.  I started out working for the district attorney's office.

Next, a superior court judge, and finally, in the early 1990s, I think my second case was a murder case, so I have much experience moving forward, having handled many murder cases over the years and have gotten unbelievable results for my clients. So, if you need the best, pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.