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OC Attempted Murder Defense Lawyer

Attempted Murder Arrest

California prosecutors have the right to charge any individual with a crime, even if an individual only attempted to commit a crime and ultimately failed in that attempt. If convicted of attempted murder you could face life in prison. Therefore, it is very important that you have an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney to represent you.

If you or somebody you know has been arrested on attempted murder charges in Orange County or anywhere throughout Southern California, you need to contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. Based on our years of experience, our legal team knows that the police and prosecution's evidence against you isn't as clear-cut as they make it out to be. With our seasoned insight, we can work with the DA's office to reduce charges, work out a plea bargain, have charges reduce from first-degree to second-degree, or even investigate police action that could result in having your case dismissed. Call us at (714) 530-9690 immediately to employ a knowledgeable Orange County criminal defense attorney.

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Understanding the Crime of Attempted Murder

Attempted murder is a combination of two related laws: California Penal Code (PC) 664 and 187. PC 664 outlines the charges for any attempted crime whereas 187 is the specific law against murder. For many other charges, PC 664 would grant a reduced sentence when compared to a full conviction of a “successful” crime, receiving a maximum of half the original sentence. However, because murder charges can extend to life imprisonment, attempted murder can also result in life imprisonment, though you will have the possibility of parole.

To successfully charge a defendant with attempted murder, the prosecution must demonstrate two elements: at least one direct step was taken to ensure the death of another individual and that there was an intent to kill that individual.

Direct Step

A direct step is any action that would contribute to the death of an individual, such as actually using the weapon to commit the crime or paying somebody to do it. Basically, if the suspect had fired a shot intending to kill the victim, but some kind of factor prevented the victim from dying such as intervention from the police, this would be attempted murder. Planning or thinking about committing murder is not considered attempted murder under California law. The District Attorney can only pursue attempted murder charges if you moved from the planning stage to trying to carry out the murder or asking someone else to do it.

Intent to Kill

Intent to kill can be a fluid issue in a criminal trial, as it requires a large amount of evidence to prove. The District Attorney will have to demonstrate that you actively attempted to kill someone, as opposed to intimidating or wounding them. They may base their argument on the weapon used, the victim’s wounds, and the circumstances surrounding or leading up to the crime. This is why it's best to contact our firm as soon as you're arrested, because our team can work to show such evidence to reduce your charges.

"...Not only did Mr. Guisti get our son’s charge reduced from felony attempted murder to a minor misdemeanor, but he worked out a very affordable payment plan. What amazed me was Mr. Guisti and his legal staff actually took the time to get to know us and visited our son in jail many times. We highly recommend Michael, because he knows the law and understands the financial needs of hard working people, and we would hire him again if we had to."

Client's rating: 5 of 5

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Potential Defense Strategies

You have defense options, some of which are complex, which is why you need to contact an experienced OC murder defense lawyer right away. Listed here are some common legal defenses our legal team has used—many of which have been successful in leading to acquittals.

Never Took the "Direct Step"

Thinking about killing another individual is not a crime and prosecutors cannot pursue a case for attempted murder if no attempt was made. Even if you own a firearm, you may only be charged if you actively used it in order to take someone’s life. Maybe you got to the planning stage, but never went through with the crime. Or you were arrested for a separate crime, but never pursued the thought of murder. Bottom line, as long as you never performed the action, you shouldn't be charged.

Attempted Wounding

Many times, it depends where the weapon struck the body. If the wounds were on the upper body, then the prosecution will say the suspect was aiming at the chest or head and clearly intended to kill the victim, because that is where the body's vital organs are located. However, if wounds or the intended target were on the victim's lower half of the body, your defense attorney can argue that you were only intending to injure the victim, which may reduce your charges to assault with a deadly weapon.

Wrongly Accused

There are several situations where you could get wrongly accused. Profiling is not an exact science and police officers have wrongly identified a suspect based on an inaccurate description, similar vehicle, or other factors. When building a defense case, your attorney may argue that you had an alibi that meant you were not at the scene of the crime or that the suspect’s profile does not accurately match you.


Your attorney may argue that you were being assaulted and fought back to defend your life, or you were defending someone else’s life. You may have had no intent to kill and only used enough force to stop any further violence.

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If Convicted…

Because attempted murder is covered under Penal Code (PC) 664, which outlines the punishments for “attempted” crimes, you will usually face a sentence of half the time as opposed to a full sentence if you committed the crime all the way through. Orange County courts will consider two possible convictions for attempted murder:

  • First-Degree: First-degree attempted murder charges include a life sentence in a California state prison and may have the opportunity to apply for parole. However, this sentence may be enhanced to require a mandatory minimum of 15-years in prison, if the crime was committed against a protected individual, such as a peace officer or firefighter.
  • Second-Degree: Second-degree attempted murder includes a sentence of between five and nine years in a California State Prison.

If convicted of attempted murder, regardless if it was first or second degree, you will have a "strike" added to your record per California's Three Strikes Law. You can also face the following: a maximum $10,000 fine, victim restitution and, per PC 12021, your loss of the right to own or possess a firearm.

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Call Our Orange County Murder Attorneys Right Away

As you've read, this charge carries potential life in jail time, which is why you need to call the Orange County violent crime attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti right away. We will follow through on every detail and lead to craft a detailed defense and can negotiate with the DA to reduce your sentence. Our goal is to win your case. Please, don't go at this alone—give us a call today at (714) 530-9690.

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Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

(714) 530-9690

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Client Reviews

“It was strongly recommended that I call federal defense attorney Michael L. Guisti. He had several investigators look at records and such, and my federal case was dismissed. Michael Guisti does what few attorneys can do, beat the federal government, and that is why if you’re in trouble with the government you need to call Michael Guisti right away!”

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“I had everything to lose, my future, my education. Basically I did something that got me a misdemeanor, and the judge wanted to give a guilty plea. But Michael Guisti would not back down. Instead he fought for me, and now my record is clean.”

- Client on


“Back in 2003 I was facing attempted murder. My family hired Michael Guisti to represent me. He is a very good attorney. He always answered my calls, addressed my questions and concerns, and kept me updated about my case. Thank you Michael Guisti for winning my case. I highly recommend anyone facing a criminal charge to see Michael Guisti.”

- J.D. on


Case Results

sex crimes

Case Dropped

Young man charged and arrested for sexual battery.


Case Dropped

Man charged with assault with a deadly weapon for hitting someone in the face with a heavy metal dust pan.

drug crimes

Served Less Than 30 Days in Jail

Young man charged with selling 1000 tabs of ecstasy to undercover officer.

Attempted Murder

Reduced to Assault With Deadly Weapon

Young man knocks the eye out his victim with a metal pipe. Charged with attempted murder and aggravated mayhem. Both cases carried life sentences.

Assault & Battery

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Woman arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon using scissors on a co-worker.

Vehicular Assault

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Man charged with three felony counts of vehicular assault with a deadly weapon.


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Orange County Attempted Murder Defense Attorney Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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