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Homicide/Murder (P.C. 187) Defense Lawyer in OC


What is the charge of Penal Code 187?

P.C. 187 Charges are the intentional killing of a human being(s). 

California defines murder under Penal Code 187 as:

(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code.

(2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon's certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

(3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

(c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.

What are defenses to murder under P.C. 187?

  • Self Defense--justifiable 
  • Defense of Others--justifiable 
  • You didn't do it--wrong person or misidentification 
  • False confession
  • Coercion
  • Accidental, not intentional killing 
  • The killing wasn't unlawful--done under color of authority or medical necessity 
  • Victim was already deceased--did not kill anyone
  • Tainted evidence or improper search and seizure by law enforcement (fruit of the poisonous tree)

What is the penalty for murder under P.C. 187?

The penalty for a first-degree murder is 25 years to life in prison. It is a strike offense and an inherently dangerous felony. It's also an aggravated felony and crime of moral turpitude as far is immigration consequences are concerned.  

What is mitigation or mitigating factors? 

Mitigation is the concept that other factors played a part during the killing which lessen the ultimate intent or "evilness" of the act of killing.  These are factors which can lessen the crime of first-degree murder to second-degree murder, manslaughter or even negligent homicide.  A few examples of mitigating facts are:

  • Imperfect self-defense--used more force than necessary to defend against an aggressor
  • Heat of Passion--finding your spouse in bed with someone as you walk in to the house
  • Temporary insanity
  • Unintentional intoxication--where someone was "drugged" and thus you acted while not realizing the consequences 
  • Did not intend to kill
  • You lacked malice and did not plan to kill 

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