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What You Need to Know if You’ve Been Charged with Murder

For most people, what you need to know if you’ve been charged with murder is far beyond their personal knowledge or experience. Help is here …

Being charged with murder is a daunting and life-altering experience. And understanding the intricacies of such a serious accusation is crucial for navigating the legal process effectively.

Understanding a Murder Charge

A murder charge is one of the most serious criminal offenses, involving the unlawful killing of another person with malicious intent. The three types of murder under California law are Capital Murder, 1st Degree Murder, and 2nd Degree Murder.

Depending on the type of murder charge, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the act with premeditation, deliberation, or extreme recklessness.

Typical Timeline of Legal Proceedings

Here are the steps of the legal process if you get charged with murder:

  1. Arrest and Booking: The process begins with the defendant’s arrest. It’s then followed by booking at a police station, where personal information is recorded, fingerprints are taken, and photographs are captured.
  2. Arraignment: The defendant appears before a judge to be formally charged. During the arraignment, the charges are read, and the defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  3. Pretrial Proceedings: This stage involves discovery. This is where the defense and prosecution exchange evidence and witness statements. Motions may also be filed by the defense to suppress evidence or dismiss the case.
  4. Trial: If the case proceeds to trial, the prosecution presents evidence, witnesses testify, and the defense has the opportunity to cross-examine. The jury then deliberates to reach a verdict, or the judge issues a verdict in a bench trial.
  5. Sentencing: If convicted, the defendant is then sentenced by the judge. Sentencing may include imprisonment, probation, fines, or a combination of these penalties.
  6. Appeal: Anyone found guilty at trial has the right to appeal the conviction or sentence. Reasons for appeal include not there not being enough evidence at trial to justify the verdict and mistakes of law made during or before the trial that changed the outcome of the case.

Possible Legal Defenses to a Murder Charge

Like with most criminal charges, there are legal defenses to a murder charge that a criminal defense attorney may consider, depending on the circumstances of your case. They include:

  • Self-Defense: The defendant may argue that the killing was justified as an act of self-defense to protect themselves or others from imminent harm or death.
  • Lack of Intent: If the prosecution fails to prove the defendant’s intent to kill beyond a reasonable doubt, a defense based on lack of intent may be employed.
  • Coerced Confession: Sometimes, detectives investigate with questions aimed at getting facts to work within their theory of a case instead of objectively looking for facts and then formulating a theory. This often results in a coerced confession.
  • Illegally Obtained Evidence: If police go beyond the boundaries of a search warrant or don’t have probable cause, it may be considered illegal search and seizure.
  • Insanity: If test results prove that the defendant didn’t understand what they were doing or couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong, it may be possible to plead “not guilty by reason of insanity” when charged with murder.

Benefits of Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney over a Public Defender

You have the right to have an attorney when facing criminal charges. Having the right legal representation is of utmost importance, especially when facing murder charges.

Here are some reasons why you may consider hiring a criminal defense attorney over utilizing a public defender:

  • Expertise and Experience. A criminal defense attorney specializing in murder cases brings years of experience and legal expertise to the table. They also can offer a comprehensive understanding of the law and courtroom strategies.
  • Personalized Attention. Unlike public defenders who often juggle numerous cases simultaneously, a private criminal defense attorney can dedicate more time and resources to building a strong defense tailored to the defendant’s specific circumstances.
  • Access to Resources. Private criminal defense firms have access to extensive resources, including forensic experts, investigators, and expert witnesses. These resources can be instrumental in building a robust defense strategy.
  • Navigating Complex Legal Processes. Murder trials can be complex and overwhelming. A skilled criminal defense attorney can guide the defendant through every step of the legal process, offering clarity, support, and strategic counsel along the way.

Facing a murder charge is a harrowing ordeal with profound implications for your future. That’s why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side fighting for you.

Mark Broughton has extensive experience spanning more than 40 years. He has represented thousands of people accused of crimes, including murder charges. He treats his clients with compassion and empathy and believes that everyone has the right to a fair trial. Schedule a free consultation for him to review your case and your options for the best possible outcome.

If you are facing criminal charges, call 559-691-6222 or click here to request a free consultation.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.