A first-degree murder charge is one of the most severe charges you can find yourself being accused of, and as a result, it is important to know what your options are and how to prepare for an approaching trial. First-degree murder is where you intentionally kill someone unlawfully as a result of your deliberate acts of premeditation and planning. Therefore, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant possessed intent or “malice aforethought,” and that the defendant committed the actual murder itself.
In California, first-degree murder or homicide is charged if the act was committed using destructive devices such as weapons of mass destruction, if the defendant was lying in wait or tortured the victim, and if the murder occurred under the felony murder rule where a person is killed during the commission of felony like robbery or burglary.
When charged with first-degree murder, you and your attorney will need to come up with a necessary defense to use in court so that the prosecutor cannot meet the burden of proof required to claim it was in fact first-degree murder. One defense is to completely deny the act altogether and say you were mistakenly accused of a crime you didn’t commit.
On the other hand, if you admit to the murder, you can provide defenses or justifications for why you did what you did. By making a defense for your actions, this can allow your lawyer the opportunity to either argue down for a lesser charge or even get the charges dismissed completely. For example, one could claim that there was no deliberate planning before the murder or that they didn’t intend to murder the victim at all. Therefore, their charges should be reduced to something like second-degree murder or even manslaughter.
Another defense could include pleading insanity, where you mentally were unable to recognize the severity and unlawfulness of the act you committed. If you felt the murder was a reasonable course of action proportional to the perceived threat of death or harm from the victim, then claiming self-defense or the defense of others is a viable option as well.
First-degree murder can carry with it some serious punishments if convicted. No matter what your circumstances are, if you are being charged with this crime, you will need an experienced defense attorney there to help you through this difficult process. Contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti and get the proper legal defense you deserve. We can be reached at (888) 478-8999.