Skip links

Murder

Call Today: 559-691-6222

What are Murder Charges?

First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of any human or fetus with malice aforethought. Both first and second-degree murder require malice aforethought. Malice is either expressed or implied. When it is expressed, death was intentional. When it is implied, death resulted from either an intentional act or related consequences.

Malice aforethought doesn’t mean someone acts with hatred towards someone else. However, it means that someone with an unprovoked, disregard for human life acted in a way that most likely would result in the death of another person.

In order to be convicted of 1st-degree murder, one of the following must be true.

  • Death was either intentional, done consciously or planned. For example: a man waits inside his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Until she comes home. Then, he kills her.
  • The murder occurred during a felony. For instance, either fire, robbery or rape. If a person set a house on fire, then someone died as a result of the fire. Then, first-degree murder charges follow.

Testimonials

Get Legal Help Today!

(559) 691-6222

Have Questions? Don’t go it alone. Let’s sit down one-on-one. I will review your case and your options for the best possible outcome.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have Questions? Don’t go it alone. Let’s sit down one-on-one. I will review your case and your options for the best possible outcome.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Penalties for First-Degree Murder

The penalty for first-degree murder is 25 years to life in a California state prison. This penalty increases to 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole if the first-degree murder was based on a hate crime. If the crime was committed against a victim because of race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or nationality, it could be considered a hate crime.

First-Degree Murder

Capital Murder

Capital murder is 1st-degree murder with special circumstances. The penalties for capital include:

  • The death penalty, or
  • Life in a state prison without the possibility of parole.

First-degree murder becomes capital murder under these circumstances:

  • Intentional murder also committed for financial gain.
  • There was more than one murder victim.
  • A police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official was murdered.
  • A witness was murdered to prevent them from testifying.
  • The victim was murdered in the process (before, during, or after) committing any of the felonies under the felony-murder rule.
  • A person was murdered because of their race, religion, nationality, or country of origin.
  • Murder as a result of a drive-by shooting.
  • Murdering someone for the benefit of a street gang.

 

For the full list of capital murder charge circumstance, please see California Penal Code 190.2.

Felony Murder Rule

The felony murder rule applies to both 1st and 2nd-degree murder. It holds people liable if they commit murder, while also committing a felony. Murder does not have to be intentional. However, it does need to be logically related to the felony committed. For example, if someone sets fire to a building and then someone dies. Then, the felony murder rule applies. This unforeseeable death makes the arsonist liable for murder charges. That is, as long as it was more than a coincidence between both the time and place of the murder and the other felony.

First-Degree Felony Murder

The felony murder rule only applies to these felonies:

  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Train wrecking
  • Kidnapping
  • Mayhem
  • Torture
  • Certain sex crimes
    • Rape
    • Unlawful acts of sodomy
    • Unlawful acts of oral copulation
    • Forcible acts of penetration
    • Lewd acts with a minor

Legal Defenses for Murder

California’s self-defense laws can protect you if you acted in self-defense or defense of others. You have to reasonably believe that you or someone else is in immediate danger of:

  • Being killed
  • Suffering great bodily injury
  • Rape, robbery, or some other forcible act

If any of these situations apply, then you have the right to use whatever measures necessary to stop these from happening.

A killing can be an accident if:

  • There was no criminal intent to do any harm
  • The defendant was not acting negligently
  • The defendant was following the law at the time of the killing

It’s possible to plead “not guilty by reason of insanity” when charged with murder. The M’Naughten test must be taken in order to prove that the defendant only killed because they didn’t understand what they were doing. Or they couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.

If it is proven that the defendant was insane at the time of the murder, then he/she is generally charged with manslaughter. Then, the judge can sentence him/her to any amount of time in jail. Or the judge can commit him/her to a psychiatric hospital.

If you were questioned by the police and your statement was not voluntary, that statement might be suppressed (ruled inadmissible) in the trial against you.

If the only significant evidence against you is your statement, the case against you may have to be dismissed.

A lot of time, detectives will have a person in mind that they think committed the murder and try to get the facts to work with their theory, instead of looking for the facts and then formulating a theory. This often results in a coerced confession. There have been many instances where a suspect was interrogated for hours and finally says they did it so they can leave.

California has search and seizure laws that require the police force to have probable cause or a valid search warrant for specific areas in order to search someone’s person or property. If they go beyond the boundaries of their warrant or don’t have probable cause, then it becomes an illegal search and seizure.

Have you been legally accused of committing murder? If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is essential to obtain legal council for help. It’s important to take your charges seriously. Don’t just hope for the best. Hire an attorney who understands your situation and the consequences you face.

local criminal defense lawyer, closeup of fingerprints, hand, ink, criminal lawyer fresno

Your Defense Attorney for Murder Charges

I’m Mark A. Broughton and I’m here to fight for you. I have been a defense Attorney for 40+ years and have represented thousands of people accused of crimes. I have extensive experience representing citizens charged with Felonies, Federal Crimes, White Collar Crimes, Violent Crimes, Gang Crimes and Sex Crimes to name a few.

10.0Mark A. Broughton
fresno lawyer

Your Defense Attorney for Murder Charges

I’m Mark A. Broughton and I’m here to fight for you. I have been a defense Attorney for 40+ years and have represented thousands of people accused of crimes. I have extensive experience representing citizens charged with Felonies, Federal Crimes, White Collar Crimes, Violent Crimes, Gang Crimes and Sex Crimes to name a few.

10.0Mark A. Broughton
Mark A. BroughtonReviewsout of 23 reviews

About Mark Broughton:

Compassionate, highly experienced, exceptional reputation, ethical and honest:

Mark Broughton has been practicing law for over 40 years. Mark estimates he has conducted over 200 jury trials. For example, DUIs, drug cases and sex cases. Also domestic violence, assaults and “three-strikes” cases. Plus, dozens of cases involving criminal street gangs, gun/deadly weapons, drive-by shootings and robberies. Finally, attempted murders and murders (including special circumstance murder cases).

He received many outright not guilty verdicts for his clients in all of these types of cases, including several murder cases. At one time, between 2005-2007, the jury found his clients not guilty, that is, in four separate cases in a row.

Mark Broughton is qualified as not only as a death penalty lawyer but also he is on the special circumstances/death penalty panel of attorneys in Fresno, California. Plus, he is regularly appointed to special circumstances/death penalty murder cases by the Fresno County Superior Court.

Other Qualifications:
  • Certified Specialist Criminal Law, State Bar of California
  • Board of Trustees, State Bar of California
  • Chairman, Fresno County Bar Association, Criminal Law Section

Mark Broughton enjoys close relationships with his clients. He sees every individual’s situation. Not only with compassion but also with empathy. Plus, he not only believes that every person has the right to a fair trial but also that they’re innocent until proven guilty.

Above all, he enjoys helping reunite his clients with their families. That is, during and after dealing with perhaps the most difficult time in their lives.

Practice Areas

  • Federal Crime 40%
  • White Collar Crime 20%
  • Violent Crime 20%
  • Criminal Defense 10%
  • Sex Crimes 10%

Related Areas of Practice:

Violent Crimes

Violent Crimes

Murder

Murder

Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular Homicide

Murder/Homicide

Murder/Homicide

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Hit and Run

Hit and Run

Rape

Rape

Violent Felonies

Violent Felonies

Violent Crimes

Violent Crimes

Murder

Murder

Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular Homicide

Murder/Homicide

Murder/Homicide

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Hit and Run

Hit and Run

Rape

Rape

Violent Felonies

Violent Felonies

Tell me about your case