Anyone who has been charged with breaking the law in California can attest to the fact that the ‘Golden State’ is tough on crime. When it comes to heinous crimes, however, none are treated more seriously than that of murder. Anyone charged with murder knows that they are in dire straits, but it’s important to note that a murder charge doesn’t automatically equate to a conviction. Anyone charged with this crime, however, definitely needs to know what they’re up against.
Definition of Murder
Reason should dictate that, if there were any laws that should be complex by necessity, it’s those related to murder. While these laws are complex, however, the crime does still maintain a basic definition: unlawfully killing another human being or an unborn fetus with malice aforethought. Several types of killing are considered “unlawful,” but malice aforethought must be shown by the deliberate killing of a person, or by a deliberate action whose consequence is likely to be the death of another.
Types of Murder Charges:
1. First-degree murder can be charged against a person who willfully premeditates and carries out a killing. Additionally, lying in wait, using a destructive device (including poison, bombs and armor piercing bullets) and torturing a person in order to commit murder are also considered first-degree murder. Finally, a death caused through the commission of a felony can also be charged as first-degree murder.
2. Capital murder, one form of first-degree murder, is a murder that can be punished by the death sentence or life without parole. This crime is only chargeable if certain special circumstances, such as murdering multiple people, murdering for monetary gain or murdering a witness in order to prevent their testimony, took place.
3. Second-degree murder, on the other hand, is charged against a person who willfully committed a murder, but they did so without premeditation or without being deliberate. Firing a gun into a room full of people, for instance, can be charged as second-degree murder if someone dies, and this holds true even if it wasn’t the suspect’s intention.
Bail Amounts for Murder
All of California’s counties have the ability to set their own bail amounts. When it comes to murder, however, the counties are relatively uniform in their preset amounts. In Los Angeles and Orange Counties, for instance, murder is bailable at $1 million. Murder involving the aforementioned or any other special circumstances, however, isn’t bailable at all.
Certain counties, such as Sacramento, take a more hardline approach. Anyone charged with murder in Sacramento County is completely ineligible for bail. When bail is an option, however, it’s obvious that $1 million may be too much to access for most people. Luckily, California’s sets the bonding agency’s fee at no more than 10 percent of the face bail amount. While this is still a hefty chunk of change, it’s certainly a ray of hope toward building a case against the charge they face. To determine the bail schedule amount in any California county, Bail Hotline provides a list of California county jails and their contact information.
Punishments for Murder
Murder involving the special circumstances mentioned above, is a capital offense. This means that a person can be punished by life imprisonment without parole or by death. First-degree murder without special circumstance, however, can only be punished by life imprisonment, but the eligibility for parole disappears in this situation if the murder was a hate crime.
Finally, those charged with second-degree murder could also face life imprisonment; for those charged with this crime, certain factors, such as having been convicted of murder before, may result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
If there’s any criminal accusation where it’s essential to have time outside of jail to confer with an attorney, it’s that of murder. Anyone charged with this crime should seek immediate bail, but due to the extremely high cost of bail for this crime, it’s likely necessary to seek the services of a bail bond agency first. Afterward, only a criminal attorney can help ensure that a person has the best chance of overcoming these charges against them.