Homicide Defense Lawyers in San Diego, CA
Homicide is often referred to as murder and it is one of the most severe charges you could face in a lifetime. These are criminal charges that carry heavy consequences. With a strong defense and retaining a homicide defense lawyer as soon as possible after the charges are filed against you. In most states, a conviction holds the possibility of life in prison and in other states, it still carries the potential of the death penalty. It is imperative that anyone accused of murder seek out the assistance of a homicide defense lawyer immediately.
Building a strong defense must start from the moment you understand that these charges are filed against you or you are under investigation for possible charges of homicide. If you suspect you are under investigation seeking the assistance of a murder defense lawyer sooner rather than later will not only make the process easier for you. But, often members of the family must significantly aid legal counsel on your behalf. Setting up interviews, finding law office that might take your case, and more are all typically done by family members while you are in the early days of detainment.
Hiring a San Diego Homicide Defense Lawyer
Hiring a murder defense lawyer can set you on the right path for a strong defense against what is likely to be a difficult case. They can ensure your rights are protected, every resource is utilized, and that you have the best possible chances of having charges reduced.
In most cases, it is on the family to interview and hire a murder defense lawyer. It is reasonable that this is the order of events you can expect. If you are seeking a homicide defense lawyer on behalf of a family member who was recently arrested on suspicion of homicide it is imperative to find the right homicide defense lawyer for your family and this case.
Interviewing the lawyer prior to hiring is difficult because there is much about their experience that they can’t discuss or disclose. Keep in mind the criminal justice system, unlike the civil justice system can vary in time frames. Cases seem to either move very quickly, in which case you need a homicide defense lawyer that is available for work immediately. However, in some instances, a manslaughter defense lawyer may purposefully move to delay court proceedings. This is one section to question a homicide defense lawyer on prior to hiring them.
While you surely want your loved one, or if you’re interviewing an attorney for yourself you would want to be out of police custody as quickly as possible. This isn’t always the best, or most strategic, move in a homicide trial. Stretching out the court proceedings is a common tactic many defense attorneys use to deplete the credibility of witnesses and age evidence. When conducting an interview, ask them on their stance of timing a case for the benefit of the defendant. You can’t want to find yourself stuck with a lawyer who is unnecessarily rushing through a case, so they can collect and move on to the next case on their desk.
During an interview ask about homicide cases they’ve had that resulted in a favorable not-guilty ruling and cases that resulted in the defendant being found guilty and facing sentencing. Ask also about possible plea bargains and reduced sentences.
Most importantly when you are hiring a homicide defense lawyer whether it is for yourself or a family member, bring in as much information as possible. A homicide defense lawyer can better understand the attention and care the case will need if they can start off with a solid foundation of knowledge regarding the case’s specifics. These documents can help your lawyer:
- Court documents showing the charges
- Next court date
- Police reports
- Documented results of property searches
- Bail papers
These items can deliver a general picture to any murder defense lawyer you interview. Do be cautious to not immediately discredit law offices who cannot meet with you immediately or in person. It is common for attorneys to initially have you meet with their staff. This could be a secretary, assistant, or paralegal. They are meeting with you first for a few reasons.
Initially, they can gather key information that they know is valuable to the attorney you’re interviewing. Secondly having staff meet with you first acts as a setup for future relationships. If you hire this attorney, you will likely work closely with them for the months to come. However, it is more likely that you’ll see their staff more. Phone calls, voicemails and pre-meeting you will see these same people who are far less rushed and often more attentive than most attorneys. Get to know the staff rather than take it as an insult that the murder defense lawyer didn’t have time to meet with you.
Know Your Rights
Protecting your rights is a major part of a murder defense lawyers job. Many people have heard bits and pieces throughout their education career about the rights of the accused. However, there are many rights that accused persons don’t know they are entitled to or feel they can’t fight for. This is where a homicide defense lawyer comes in.
The rights you are entitled to through the constitution and protected within the criminal justice system include the right to a speedy trial. But also, to a fair process in hearings, and a pretrial hearing in felony cases. During the court proceedings, your homicide defense lawyer can help deflect questions asked in a manner that could be used against you. They can also identify if any evidence gathering or handling of the case was unreasonable or did not meet necessary requirements.
Your rights will often predate your arrest. These are rights which must be maintained during the investigation process, formal arrest, hearings, indictments, during the arraignment and throughout the trial. If convicted during the trial, then these rights extend into the court of appeals.
What is the Right to Due Process?
This is essentially your right to have your side of the events heard. This includes the right to a trial, as well as the right to submit evidence that can aid their case. You have the right as part of due process to cross-examine any witness. Additionally, you have the right to testify, however, your homicide defense lawyer may advise against it.
The right to due process is the most common technicality for which people are released. No doubt you’ve heard that one action or another is a violation of a defendant’s right to due process. Discuss what this means with your homicide lawyer further, so they can assist you throughout the court proceedings.
What are the Different Types of Homicide?
Murder is difficult to charge to overcome. But, what is the difference between murder and homicide or even manslaughter? What are the degrees and who decides that? Why are there charges for murder where the people involved had no intention of causing harm?
These are questions that anyone who has faced a homicide charge thinks of. There is a lot to process and suddenly you are in a world of legalese, where words don’t make sense and even the word murder isn’t right. If a murder defense lawyer is correcting your use of the word “murder” odds are they are referring to a specific degree of homicide in an effort to reduce the charges or to create a perspective barrier for the jury.
First Degree Murder
First-degree murder is a homicide that was clearly premeditated. This means it was planned, thought through and there was a conscious decision to act. First-degree murder is exceptionally difficult to prove and most often doesn’t hold up very well without a mass amount of physical evidence.
However, if the prosecution has decided to move forward with a first-degree murder charge you definitely need a murder defense attorney. They understand the aggressive nature the prosecution will proceed with and help prepare you for the difficult days in court. The other aspect that a good homicide defense lawyer can help you with is preparation for a very severe sentencing. First-degree murder is one of the charges that can result in the death penalty. Although not available in all states, if there isn’t the possibility of the death penalty there is still the possibility of life in prison without the chance of parole.
Second Degree Murder
The next step-down drops drastically in possible consequences. Where first-degree murder can lead to life in prison or death, second-degree murder sentences range from 10 to 25 years in prison and often there is the chance of parole.
The second degree is not the commonly thought of “crime of passion” though and the many misconceptions surrounding it are slowly being brought to light.
Second-degree murder is intentionally killing but, without planning or premeditation that is also not a result of a “heat-of-passion”. Another segment of second-degree murder in the death of a person caused because of a lack of concern for human life. Many states handle second-degree murder differently. Some scatter the common second-degree murder charges between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Because this is middle ground it is difficult to establish a clear definition that doesn’t also partially apply to either first-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
One example used regularly is a bar fight. In this situation, two men get in a fight at a bar. There are various people present, some tell the men to settle down but the first continues resulting in the death of one man. This shows that there was intent to kill because there was an opportunity to stop and that opportunity was not taken. However, this was neither premeditated nor a crime of passion. This example would be vastly different though if for example, one man had a romantic affair with the other man’s wife.
There is a brief window within the law where homicide is not a criminal offense and that is a justified or justifiable homicide. A homicide defense lawyer can build a case around your situation for justifiable homicide if it meets specific requirements:
- Homicide was committed without malice or mal-intent
- Homicide was committed in self-defense and was responding with equal force
- Homicide was committed in the defense of others
- Homicide was committed to preventing a serious crime
- Homicide was committed as part of the line of duty
The first conditions listed must be met and accompanied by one of the following requirements as well. Recently one of these has received an excess of media attention. Justifiable homicide because of a police officer or military servicemember acting in a line of duty. There is a process for police officers and military servicemembers.
However, the process for self-defense, the defense of others, or as part of crime prevention carry through the same process for the sake of consistency and fairness. Justifiable homicide is often found in cases of self-defense or the defense of others. When a person believes their life or the lives of those around them are in immediate danger, homicide is considered justifiable. This is only taken into consideration however when the force deemed necessary is in fact, deadly force. For example, if a person comes up to you in a public place and physically assaults you without a weapon this is not likely to warrant deadly force. The criminal justice system ideally would have you defend yourself or other to the point of the attacker retreating.
How Does the Type of Homicide Affect a Murder Case?
As we saw from justifiable homicide there is a large connection between the type of homicide and the sentencing you could face.
Keep in mind for sentencing there are general guidelines set to ensure fairness on a national level. Although the language may change most of these charges are static. The type of homicide is more likely to affect your sentencing, but so far as your case goes it will likely only affect it if you and your lawyer are seeking reduced charges. This can delay court proceedings and instigate more court appearances. However, this extra work, in the beginning, can contribute to a lower sentence in the long run.
A manslaughter defense lawyer understands that there are extenuating circumstances and that your case is a long shot away from a murder trial. Manslaughter is defined as the killing of a person without malice. Then this is divided into two main sections, either voluntary or involuntary. In other words, manslaughter is a murder which did not start with the intent to kill but was provoked or aggravated by circumstances surrounding the situation.
Also referred to as a crime of passion, voluntary manslaughter means that the accused intended to harm the victim, and possibly intended to kill but it was not premeditated or the sole intent of the action. A classic example is that one person comes home to find their spouse during extramarital activities. They become enraged and the spouse. This is a crime of passion as the accused did not intend to go home and murder their spouse, the circumstances provoked a response that otherwise would not have led to murder.
This is when the death of a person was completely, and clearly unintended. A manslaughter defense lawyer can quickly spot whether the charges you face warrant involuntary manslaughter or not. Many manslaughter defense lawyers will seek out involuntary manslaughter as a lesser offense. However, the requirements to meet this category of manslaughter are specific.
One example of involuntary manslaughter is drunk driving. There is no intent to kill anyone when a drunk person gets behind the wheel. However, if their reckless driving and negligent behavior resulted in an accident with fatalities this becomes involuntary manslaughter.
This is the only segment of homicide that has the possibility of a misdemeanor and in some cases a low-level felony instead of the harsh felony that many people associate with the term “murder”. To call a murder “involuntary manslaughter” it must meet these three requirements:
- The defendant acted with negligence or disregard for human life
- The defendant knew the consequences of his or her actions
- A person died because of the negligence
As you can see, fatalities resulting from intoxicated driving meet all these requirements. Another example is if a building owner fails to install smoke detectors, then a fire in the building resulted in the death of a person. This is where most people find themselves when facing a manslaughter charge. Contact a manslaughter defense lawyer for help with your case.
What is Felony Homicide?
Felony homicide standards apart from manslaughter and first or second-degree murder. Instead, felony homicide is somewhere between first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. A manslaughter defense lawyer can help you understand if your situation falls into this category.
Felony homicide requires that the murder was committed during an inherently dangerous crime. Alluding to the fact that the accused would know the dangers of engaging in these activities but did not intend to kill. What is considered an inherently dangerous crime varies by state, but it is common for robbery, kidnapping, and rape to be considered inherently dangerous crimes?
Contact A San Diego Homicide Defense Lawyer
If you are facing any of the charges above, you have the possibility of serious consequences in your near future whether you committed the crime or not. Consult and hire a murder defense attorney as soon as possible. These are charges that aren’t going to blow over, they require a diligent defense, contact an experienced homicide attorney at San Diego Criminal today.