California Attempted Murder Laws

Attempted murder is a violent crime that occurs any time another human being attempts to kill another human being, except the attempt is unsuccessful. The prosecutor must prove the following to convict you:

  • The defendant had an intent to kill, also known as “malice aforethought”
  • The defendant took a direct step towards killing another person

Under California Penal Code § 664/187(a), there are two degrees of attempted murder: first- and second-degree.

  • First-degree attempted murder – your actions were considered willful, deliberate and premeditated.
  • Second-degree attempted murder – the act was not willful, deliberate and premeditated.

What Is Intent to Kill?

The victim’s injuries will be closely evaluated to determine your intent to kill. The location of their injuries can be a strong indicator of the intent behind their attackers’ actions.

For example, if the alleged victim was stabbed in the foot, it would be more difficult for the state to prove that you intended to kill them. Conversely, if you stabbed them in areas where critical organs are located, it might be easier to prove you intended to kill them.

What Is a Direct Step Towards Killing Another Person?

A direct step is when an action is taken to put your plan into motion. Although other factors intervened and prevented the murder, it would have occurred had those factors not been present.

A good example of a direct step would be using a gun to shoot someone in the stomach. But buying a gun is not considered a direct step under California law.

What is the Kill Zone Theory?

California law requires that the defendant had an intent to kill and took a direct step towards killing someone to convict them of attempted murder. But what happens when someone other than the defendant’s intended target is killed?

Defendants are liable for anyone killed while attempting to murder the intended target. This is known as the kill zone theory. This could occur in gang-related incidents where innocent bystanders were unintentionally killed.

Penalties for Attempted Murder in Oakland, CA

Here are some of the sentences that you might endure if you are convicted of any of the following types of attempted murder or related charges:

  • First-degree attempted murder – Life in prison with the possibility of parole.
  • Second-degree attempted murder – Up to nine years in prison; fines as high as $10,000.
  • Gang-related attempted murder – In addition to the penalties for first or second-degree attempted murder, you will also face an additional 15 years to life in prison.
  • Soliciting someone to commit a crime – This could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of your case. A felony charge results in up to four years in state prison and fines as high as $10,000.
  • Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle – Up to seven years in prison or 25 years to life, depending on the details of your case. You might pay fines as high as $10,000.
  • Torture – Under California Penal Code § 206, you could expect to spend the rest of your life in prison with the possibility of parole.
  • Aggravated battery A felony conviction results in up to four years in prison; fines as high as $10,000.
  • Drive-by shooting – A misdemeanor results in up to one year in jail; fines as high as $1,000. A felony conviction results in seven years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances of your case.
  • Attempted voluntary manslaughter – Felony convictions result in up to 11 years or more in prison; fines as high as $10,000.
  • Attempting to aid in a suicide – According to California Penal Code § 401, you could face up to three years in prison and pay $10,000 in fines.

Collateral Consequences

If you are found guilty of attempted murder or an attempted murder related crime, you can expect to face other criminal and collateral consequences, such as:

  • Loss of child custody
  • Immigration or citizenship issues
  • Reputational damage
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Suspension or revocation of your professional licenses
  • Trouble finding safe housing
  • Difficulty earning a living
  • Probation or parole requirements

Sentencing Enhancements for Attempted Murder

Sentence enhancements allow for penalties to increase based on the facts of a case. For example, you could expect the “use a gun and you’re done” law under California Penal Code § 12022.53 in cases of attempted murder involving a gun. This could result in:

  • 20 extra years in prison for firing a gun
  • Ten additional years in prison for the use of a gun
  • 25 years to life in prison for causing someone serious bodily harm through the use of a gun

Defending Against Attempted Murder in Oakland, CA

With help from your Oakland, CA attempted murder attorney, you can determine which defense is most appropriate for your case.

Possible defenses include:

Lack of Intent to Kill

Your attempted murder attorney can challenge whether you intended to kill an individual. Your lawyer will gather evidence and recruit the help of experts to examine your case and clear your name.

No Direct Step Was Taken

As stated, a person must take a direct step towards killing someone to be convicted of attempted murder. Your charges could be dismissed if your attorney proves you took no step towards killing someone.

Justifiable Attempted Murder via Self-Defense

Your case might be dismissed based on the fact you were acting in self-defense. In this case, your attorney will use California law to prove that you were well within your right to defend yourself.

Other Possible Defenses

There may be other defense options depending on the facts of your case, including:

  • False accusations
  • Mistaken identity
  • Lack of mental capacity

Seth Morris works diligently to obtain the evidence needed to support your case and introduce reasonable doubt.

Contact an Oakland, CA Attempted Murder Lawyer

Have you been charged with attempted murder in Oakland, CA? The penalties you face could forever change the course of your life.

Recruit the help of an aggressive lawyer for attempted murder charges in Oakland, CA. Contact Attorney Seth Morris at Morris Law to schedule your consultation today. Fill out our confidential contact form or give our office a call at 510-330-0814 to get started.