Unfortunately, this question is not easy to answer, and I think the bottom line is that there is no usual punishment in a California Penal Code 187 PC murder case.
If you get convicted of first-degree murder, you're facing a sentence of 25 to life. If you get convicted of second-degree murder, you're facing a sentence of 15 to life.
But sometimes, people are found not guilty of murder but guilty of California Penal Code 192(a) PC voluntary manslaughter, which has its sentencing scheme. It's killing another person when your anger or emotion is provoked, and they are killed in a confrontation.
In other words, if the death of someone was a spontaneous result of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion, and your conduct was the result of adequate provocation.
For provocation to be considered “adequate,” it must be determined that other reasonable people in the same situation would have reacted similarly. Voluntary manslaughter charges are a lesser offense than murder charges and often an option to be considered by a jury in a murder trial.
Violating Penal Code 192(a) PC will often become part of negotiations in murder cases where the defendant confesses to killing the victim. Still, their defense lawyer is attempting to reduce the charges to manslaughter.
The difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder is whether you acted with "malice aforethought,” meaning if you had intent to kill or a wanton disregard for human life.
When someone is killed in the heat of passion, it's usually presumed it was done without malice and the primary reason for the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. You'd be facing a max of 11 years under that circumstance. Let's review this subject in more detail below.
Gang Sentencing Enhancement – Penal Code 186.22
But it gets a little more complicated than that because depending on other charges that might be filed with the murder charge or allegations, that could cause your sentence to be higher.
For example, if you go to trial and you're charged with murder, and you get 25 to life because you're convicted of the murder, and you are also found guilty of a gang allegation under California Penal Code 186.22 PC allegation, that can add ten years onto the back of your sentence.
A criminal street gang is any group or organization with three or more people with a common name or identifying symbol.
Further, one of their primary activities is to commit one of a long list of California crimes, and their members engage in a pattern of criminal gang activity, which means the following:
- Commit two or more crimes that are on the list;
- On two or more separate occasions by two or more people;
- Within a period of 3 years of each other; and
- Prosecutor has to prove the crimes were gang-related.
The crimes include robbery, drug sales, drug transportation, drug manufacturing, assault with a deadly weapon, murder, drive-by shootings, kidnapping, witness intimidation, rape, burglary, gun possession, carjacking, auto theft, money laundering, felony vandalism, others.
Some other charges can be leveled against you, and depending on whether or not those charges can be added consecutively, they may be added on top of your charge.
Why You Need the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer
So, these murder cases are complicated. I suggest that if you or a loved one is charged with PC 187 murder, all marbles are on the line.
You're going to need the best criminal defense attorney you can find. Of course, I put myself in that category, or I wouldn't be talking about this:
- I've been doing this now for 30 years;
- I've worked for the District Attorney's office;
- I've worked for a superior court judge;
- I've worked for the State Bar of California, and
- I've worked as a criminal defense attorney for people like you and your loved one who might be charged with murder since 1994.
I've handled thousands of criminal cases, many murder cases. I've gotten not-guilty verdicts; I've gotten different charges than murder.
I've done many things for my clients depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and on whether we've got a good chance to beat the prosecutors.
Review of the Best Defense Strategy in Murder Cases
That's probably one of the first things you want to do in a murder case. As you assess it and decide exactly what you want to do, you've got to realize that no matter the punishment, it will be harsh if you or your loved one get convicted of murder.
So, you want to ensure that you do everything possible to get the best result for your client. That's crucial as a defense attorney.
So, I sit down and meet with the family and my client. I talk about the case and encourage my client to be honest and give me all the details; that way, I can best advise them so we can make the best possible decision right from the beginning.
Do we fight the case, or do we negotiate the case? That's step number one.
So, if you need the best, you've come to the right place. If you're worried about the punishment for your murder charge, your worry is not misplaced. These cases are severe. The best prosecutors, law enforcement, and usually the best judges, especially if the case is being tried in downtown Los Angeles, are called the Criminal Courts Building (CCB) – Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
If it's a big murder case and takes a bunch of time, they're going to set it on the 9th floor, where they try all the high-profile cases – all of the log cases that will take some time to try.
Make sure you get the best. It's time to hire the best possible criminal defense attorney to get the best possible result. Pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. We offer a free case consultation via phone or fill out the contact form.