Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice. A person can be convicted of either first degree murder or second degree murder.
Malice is a Mental State that is Required to Commit Murder
It is generally defined as:
(A) Intent to kill another person,
(B) Intent to cause serious bodily harm to another person,
(C) Intent to commit a serious crime such as a felony; and
(D) Intent to commit an imminently dangerous act without regard for the safety and security of others.
A person may be guilty of murder if he or she commits an act deemed premeditated or a preplanned murder, or conspires with another person or persons to commit an act that results in a murder.
There are two varying degrees of murder which have different punishments. The difference can be significant and it is extremely important that you or your loved one have a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent them at every stage in the court process.
First Degree Murder
A killing, which is willful, deliberate and premeditated, is legally considered to be first degree murder.
First degree murder can also be committed by certain acts specified in the California penal code and by the courts. These acts can include many things and only a qualified criminal defense attorney can advise you properly if you are charged with murder.
Second Degree Murder
A homicide with malice but without premeditation (preplanning) or is murder in the second degree. This charge carries penalties and punishments that are less than first degree murder but are extremely serious in their own right. Only a qualified criminal defense lawyer can advise you properly as to all the consequences of such a charge.
An example of murder in the second degree is a homicide perpetrated by shooting a gun from a car, intentionally at another person outside of the vehicle with the intent to injure and not kill a person. This is merely an example and every case will have its own issues and facts. That is why it is of the utmost importance to contact a Los Angeles murder lawyer as soon as possible.
Generally speaking there are specific instances where a murder is a first degree murder. In most other instances, a murder will be considered a second degree murder.