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


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 the 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 did not do it, wrong person, or misidentification. 
  • False confession.
  • Coercion.
  • Accidental, not intentional killing. 
  • The killing was not unlawful, it was done under the color of authority or medical necessity. 
  • The victim was already deceased or 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 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 as immigration consequences are concerned.  

What is mitigation or mitigating factors? 

Mitigation is the concept that other factors played a part during the killing which lessens the ultimate intent or "evilness" of the act of killing. These are factors that 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 is used when more force than necessary is used to defend against an aggressor in a heat of passion like finding your spouse in bed with someone as you walk into 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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