December 31, 2018 1:40 pm Published by

This is an interesting question when it comes to murder cases in Los Angeles and throughout the San Fernando Valley.  I’ve tried a lot of them over the last twenty-five years and I find this issue coming up more and more when it comes to a murder charge, and that is, the person either claims they did not have the intent to kill anybody or they claim sort of a self-defense mixed in with whatever happened.

First Degree Murder

These cases center around their own facts.  In other words, you can’t just make some general rule and expect it to cover everything.  In human affairs, there’s all sorts of different things that can occur, especially in a murder charge.  So, you really have to look at the facts and then make a judgment call as to whether or not the prosecutors are going to be able to prove intent.  There’s a couple of different degrees of murder.  There’s first degree murder where somebody decides they’re going to kill somebody and then goes out and executes the plan to kill them and the prosecutors have the evidence to be able to prove this.

Second Degree Murder

Then there’s a spontaneous killing which is a second degree murder where somebody very quickly becomes angry and forms the intent to kill and then kills another person.  But that doesn’t really answer the question because sometimes the person that gets killed is doing something on their end as well which can cause there to be a defense in the case that can cause the person to become extremely angry and maybe there’s a lesser charge like voluntary manslaughter.  So, we really need to look at those facts and circumstances.

I find myself saying to clients all the time, well no you can’t do that and no, that’s not reasonable.  That’s kind of the standard.  Simplistic as that may sound, you look at what happened and you say to yourself, well could they do that?  I mean, is that right under those circumstances?  And a lot of times you’re like, no we can’t live in  a society like that where somebody is hit or punched and then they snap and go get a gun and shoot somebody.  Obviously, you can’t do that.

Prosecutor Has Burden Of Proof

But sometimes the lines are much closer when it comes to murder-related offenses and sometimes there’s defenses.  I mean, this is where you really need the help of a good criminal defense attorney who has done murder cases, seen what juries focus on when they decide these cases, because what ends up happening is you do the jury trial in the murder case, and the prosecutors, because they have the burden put on all their evidence and then the defense gets an opportunity to cross-examine and attack the credibility of all their witnesses.

After the prosecution is done, the defense gets a chance to put on their evidence.  Ultimately, there’s going to be closing arguments by the parties and then the jury is going to decide.  But, before the jury decides they’re going to be given jury instructions.  In a murder case, they’re going to have to be able to find that the prosecutors proved what’s called malice of forethought, which basically means that the person had time to think and reflect and made the decision to kill another person unlawfully.

If somebody fires a weapon at you and you decide to fire back, yeah, you had malice of forethought.  Yeah, you were trying to kill them, but you were trying to get them before they got you.  That can be a self-defense claim.  So, these cases are not as simple as everybody thinks.

Sometimes there’s more than meets the eye.  Sometimes the prosecutors don’t have all the evidence.  That’s the unfortunate thing, when the authorities only do a one-sided investigation, which I see happening in a lot of these murder cases.  They’re not going out and getting the other evidence that’s available that can really put things into context and give you a good feel for what really happened.

Defense Strategy By Criminal Lawyer

And that’s where the criminal defense attorney and the defendant really need to sit down, huddle up and get their heads together and figure out what really happened, why it happened and whether there’s any defenses.  Sometimes there are defenses and you put those defenses together.

You put your investigation together and you take the case to trial and try to win it. Other times you realize there’s too much evidence against me.  I have to have my attorney work a deal out for me otherwise I’m going to run the risk of getting twenty-five to life, fifteen to life — there’s some big stakes involved when it come to murder cases in Los Angeles.

So, the bottom line is this – if you’ve got a murder case and you’re trying to figure out what to do, or one of your loved one’s has a murder case – you have to find an attorney who has handled these types of cases before successfully.  In other words, there aren’t many attorneys in my experience in LA County and the San Fernando Valley that even like to touch murder cases because so much is on the line.  A lot of attorneys simply don’t have the stomach for it.  So, you must find somebody who has done these cases before.

That’s where I think I have a huge advantage over a lot of these attorneys who are either afraid of doing these type of murder charges or who really don’t know how to try a murder case – don’t know how to argue this intent issue which is a big issue — whether somebody really had the intent to kill another person and whether or not they have a defense related to the case.

Consult With Our Law Firm

So, if you’ve got a murder case or you have a loved one who has a murder case, what we do is sit down and we go over everything.  I’ll either go visit him in county jail or we can come face to face in my office and see what I can do to help you based on the circumstances of your case. We specialize in the Van Nuys and San Fernando Superior Courts. Call our law firm to review your case.

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

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