San Diego Homicide Attorney
Homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being and includes Murder (both first and second degree), Felony Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Involuntary Manslaughter, Watson Murder, DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter.  When the death of a human being is involved, the severity of the crime skyrockets.  DUI, for example is a misdemeanor, is typically a misdemeanor, but when someone is killed, it can lead to 10 years in prison.  If the defendant has a prior, it is punishable as murder.  Assault, even with a deadly weapon, is punishable by much shorter stays in prison than an intentional or unintentional crime that leads to someone's death.the death of another person.

Homicides of all kind are treated very seriously and are harshly prosecuted in San Diego.  Here is a breakdown of the different California Laws dealing with homicide:

Pursuant to Penal Code Section 187, murder is the intentional killing of another human being with malice aforethought.  First degree murder is charged in premeditated crimes, murders involving explosives and killings occurring during the commission of a felony pursuant to California's felony murder rule.  First degree murder is always a felony, always a strike, and punishable by 25 years to life in prison.  With aggravating factors present, California also imposes the death penalty is some first degree murder cases.

Second degree murder, also covered by PC 187, is an intentional killing of another human being, but is not premeditated.  Second degree murder is punishable by 15 years to life.

The idea of "voluntary" manslaughter is counter-intuitive.  If a killing is intentional, it is typically charged as murder, but there is a defense in cases commonly referred to as "passion" killings.  Here, a seemingly deliberate act (stabbing, shooting, etc.) is not deemed a murder due to the heat of the moment, and the defendant's inability to form the intent and malice required for a murder conviction.  Unlike murder, voluntary manslaughter is punishable by a maximum of 11 years in prison.

Involuntary manslaughter is what most people think of when they hear the term manslaughter.  When a defendant has committed an illegal act, resulting in the death of another human being, but there was no intent to kill, then involuntary manslaughter is the proper charge, pursuant to Penal Code Section 192(b).  Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

Penal Code Section 191.5, Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, is the California law regarding DUI homicide.    The victim can be another driver/passenger or pedestrian.  In order to convict for DUI manslaughter, the government must prove that the defendant violated the state's drunk driving laws (either that the driver had above a .08 blood alcohol concentration at the time of driving, or that the person was impaired, affecting their ability to drive).  Additionally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed an additional illegal act that caused the accident.  DUI manslaughter is always a felony, always a strike and carries a sentence of Four, Six or Ten years in California State Prison.

Penal Code Section 192.5, Vehicular Manslaughter covers vehicular homicides not involving drugs or alcohol.  Negligent driving need not be the result of any drug or alcohol use, with an increasing number of traffic fatalities now due to cell phone usage and other distracted driving patterns.  Speeding, reckless driving, running a stop light, etc. can all be very dangerous and lead to the death of another person.  Vehicular manslaughter is punishable by 16 months, 2 years or 4 years in prison.

Pursuant to the case People v. Watson, California law considers driving recklessly while intoxicated enough to meet the wanton disregard requirement for second degree murder by "implied malice."  It is from this case that California DUI Murder gets its nickname, "Watson murder."  If you have ever pled guilty or no contest to DUI, you may also recall being given a Watson advisement, advising you that if you are arrested for DUI again, and that DUI leads to an accident where someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.  Our office typically advises clients NOT to sign the Watson advisement portion of the DUI waiver form in plea negotiations, but the advisement is given nonetheless.  Watson murder is among the most serious charges in California criminal law and requires a strong grasp of DUI science, accident reconstruction and more.

Simply intending to kill another person is not enough for attempted murder.  California law requires intent to kill as well as taking a direct or substantial step towards a murder.  Mere preparation is not enough (e.g. purchasing a weapon and driving to someone's home).  Putting poison in a drink has been deemed to be enough, regardless of how long or likely it will be that the intended victim ever drinks the poison.  First degree attempted murder is punishable by life with the possibility of parole.  Second degree attempted murder is punishable by 5, 7 or 9 years in prison.  The difference between first and second degree attempted murder depends on premeditation.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a homicide offense, having a talented attorney or team of attorneys is absolutely vital.  Facing a homicide charge is one of the scariest events a person can face, with the very real possibility of up to life in California State Prison.  Call the Law Offices of Nicholas Loncar for a Free Consultation to discuss your criminal case, defenses and what to expect in court.  Call anytime.  619-930-9515.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
t: 619-930-9515
f: 619-930-9516


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