What Happens When a Victim is Shot in a Murder Case?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingOct 21, 2022

If a victim is shot in a California Penal Code 187 PC murder case, does that make the crime more serious?

PC 187 murder is defined as killing another human being "with malice aforethought." However, different circumstances determine whether a defendant will be charged with first-degree or second-degree murder.

Likewise, the penalties for each degree of murder may differ widely. The definition of the degrees of murder is codified in Penal Code 189 PC.

Many people are being charged with murder, using a weapon, and they can't figure out why all this extra prison time is being applied to their case because a weapon was used. 

Whenever a gun is used to commit a crime, especially a murder, there are extra enhancements that apply that the prosecutors can tack on to the murder.  If somebody gets hit with a bullet, that makes things much more severe, and then, of course, the death will trigger a murder charge.

So, the bottom line is, whenever a gun is involved – whenever you have a shooting, and someone is being charged with murder- that person typically faces the rest of their life in prison. 

That's why, in my opinion, it's so important to get the best criminal defense attorney on board. The prosecutors and police are going to use their best personnel to prosecute the case because somebody died.

Therefore, you're going to need to counter that by coming up with the best possible attorney to defend your case. Our California criminal defense lawyers will look closely at this topic below.

What Is First-Degree Murder?

First-degree murder is the most severe charge an accused can face. It's described as an unlawful killing with malice aforethought that was premeditated, committed in a particular manner, or committed in the process of committing other felony offenses.  Under Penal Code 189 PC, first-degree murder occurs when any of the following are true:

  • The murder was premeditated (planned);
  • The murder was committed using poison, explosives, metal-penetrating ammo, or a weapon of mass destruction;
  • The murderer lay in wait for the victim;
  • The murder was committed in the context of torture;
  • The murder occurred during the commission of one or more specific felonies, called felony murder.

The list of felonies that qualify a killing as first-degree murder includes arson, robbery, kidnapping, torture, mayhem, burglary, carjacking, rape, and other sexual-related severe crimes such as sodomy, forced oral copulation, lewd acts with a minor, and sexual penetration with a foreign object.

10-20-Life Gun Sentencing Enhancement – Penal Code 12022.53 PC

California has the strictest gun laws in the United States. Some rules allow harsh legal penalties for defendants who commit certain crimes with a gun. It's known as the “use a gun, and you're done” law, defined under California Penal Code 12022.53 PC.

This statute imposes additional penalties, called an “enhancement,” when you commit certain crimes using a gun. It applies to serious felony crimes if you use a gun to commit the crime. In other words, it makes a state prison sentence significantly longer.

PC 12022.53 says, “(b) Anyone who commits a specific felony crime using a firearm will be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in state prison for ten years. Anyone who discharges a firearm will receive an additional 20 years. (d) Anyone who discharges a firearm causing great bodily injury shall receive an additional 25 years.”

What Are the Defenses for PC 187 Murder Charges?

Sometimes, whether it's a shooting or not, some defenses apply.  Sometimes there's self-defense where somebody is shooting at you, and you have to shoot back at them. 

Other times, there's more of an I.D. case where the argument is that the person who is being claimed to be the shooter involved in the crime is not involved in the crime at all and they have the wrong person, and the identification is no good; however, they're placing that person at the scene.

You can't just say the same applies in every case because all of these cases are different, and each case spins on its facts.

Defenses for Penal Code 187 PC Murder Charges

Once again, your best procedure, if you or a loved one is charged with murder and a gun was involved, or somebody was shot – you want to get a criminal defense attorney that has experience – not only in the local court where the case is pending but experience defending murder charges because of all of the different moving parts that can be involved.

There could be experts that testify.  There could be DNA evidence.  There could be eyewitness testimony.  There are different ways prosecutors can use to prove a murder case.

They don't use all of the tools that they usually have in every single case. Specific tools apply to some instances.  For example, sometimes there's a situation where a gun is found on a criminal defendant, and they're trying to prove that that gun was the murder weapon, so they're going to use an expert in firearms and ballistics to try to do that. 

Other times, they have witnesses who see the person, and they don't have any other physical evidence like the gun, DNA, whatever the case may be, so now they have to rely on witness identification to prove the case – photo line-ups, live line-ups, identifications at the scene – whatever the situation may be.

Then there are other ways they can prove cases.  Sometimes I've seen these cases confirmed by DNA, where the defendant's DNA is at a murder scene, for example, and there's no other explanation for being there other than the fact they must have been involved in the murder. Perhaps we can argue that you did not personally use a gun during the commission of a crime.

So, if you need the best – you have someone involved in a shooting murder case, pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  Let me put my 30 years of experience to work for you or your loved one.  The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case review by phone or the contact form.