Murder Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

Arrested for murder? Hire a firm with 70+ years of experience.

If you have been accused of murder in Los Angeles, your future is on the line. A first degree murder conviction can result in life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The death penalty may even be imposed in certain cases, though an inmate has not been executed in California since 2006. The future of capital punishment in our state is currently in doubt, but defendants are still sentenced to death and may face years or decades on death row while waiting to see if their sentences will be carried out.

Regardless of whether you are facing capital punishment or life imprisonment, it is imperative that you have an effective criminal defense lawyer by your side. At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we have more than 70 years of combined experience and know exactly what it takes to fight for our clients' freedom. In fact, our firm is backed by an impressive record of successful case results. Don't wait any longer to get the help you need; contact our office today to schedule your free consultation.

Challenging First & Second Degree Murder Charges

To commit a "homicide" is to kill someone, either lawfully or unlawfully. Murder is one type of homicide, and is the most serious criminal offense associated with this act. According to California Penal Code §187, murder is defined as killing someone (including a fetus) with malice aforethought. This may be described as the intent to kill or cause bodily injury, or to act with a wanton disregard for human life.

Malice may either be express or implied:

  • Express malice – the defendant intends to kill the victim
  • Implied malice – the defendant intends to cause serious bodily injury or to commit an act that clearly endangers life, without provocation

In the face of allegations, a criminal investigation or formal charges involving murder, the most important thing that you can do is retain the services of a competent attorney. Only the most highly skilled criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles can mount an effective defense against such serious charges. At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we are confident in our ability to successfully handle these cases.

First Degree Murder Law in California

First degree murder is an unlawful killing that is willful, deliberate and premeditated. "Felony murder" is also considered to be first degree murder. Felony murder includes any murder that is carried out while committing or attempting to commit another felony offense like burglary, robbery, mayhem, carjacking, arson, kidnapping, train wrecking, rape, sodomy (and a variety of other sex crimes) or a drive-by shooting. First degree murder with "special circumstances" is the highest-level homicide offense.

California Penal Code Section 190.2 describes "special circumstances" as:

  • Murder of more than one victim
  • Murder in exchange for financial compensation
  • Murder of a law enforcement officer or firefighter
  • Murder of a judge, prosecutor or elected official
  • Murder of another based on race, religion, etc.
  • Murder of a witness to prevent their testimony
  • Murder of a child under the age of six

The punishment for first degree murder is 25 years to life in prison. The penalty for first degree murder with special circumstances, also known as "capital murder," is death or life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The first degree felony murder rule could also apply to your case if another person was killed in the commission of a different felony offense, like kidnapping, robbery, carjacking, arson, torture, mayhem, etc.—even if the death was not in furtherance of the underlying felony.

Second Degree Murder Law in California

Second degree murder also requires malice and acting intentionally, but it does not require premeditation and deliberation. Examples of second degree murder include:

  • Using a deadly weapon in a fight that results in death, without a valid defense
  • Swinging a baseball bat at a victim that accidentally hits them and results in death
  • Shooting a gun without intent to kill into a crowded room and killing someone
  • Driving a car in an extremely dangerous manner that results in another's death

Essentially, second degree murder is any murder that isn't defined as first degree murder. The punishment for second degree murder is 15 years to life in prison.

Additional Penalties That May Be Imposed

Apart from being sentenced to several decades in prison, you could face a wide range of other legal penalties if you are convicted of first or second degree murder in the state of California. If a firearm was used in the commission of the murder, 10, 20 or 25 years could be added to your sentence. You would also receive a "strike" on your criminal record upon conviction, and may be asked to pay victim restitution and fines up to $10,000. Furthermore, you would lose the right to own or possess a firearm.

Our Firm Will Be By Your Side from Start to Finish

In murder cases, prosecutors will use all of their resources and influence to get a conviction. Without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, defendants face serious and sometimes overwhelming challenges. Any misstep in the process – pre-trial hearings, investigations, preliminary hearing, negotiations, motions, trial or sentencing – can have profound, lifelong effects for the defendant. If you have been charged murder, it might seem like the prosecutors have the advantage.

Having an experienced and skilled criminal lawyer is critical. The right attorney can level the playing field, protecting your constitutional rights and seeking the best possible result. To find out how we can help, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. As soon as you contact our firm for a free initial consultation, we can put seven decades of combined experience to work for your defense. Don't wait any longer to take the first step! Call now at (213) 481-6811.