The crime of murder is committed when there is an unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice afterthought. This crime is stipulated in Sec 187(a) of the California Penal Code.

When a person is killed, it is generally called as a homicide. The gravest form of homicide is murder, because of the presence of malice in the commission of the crime. As defined by law, malice is the mental state which does not require ill will or hatred upon the victim. When the act is committed with wanton disregard for human life and there is high degree of success in killing a person, malice afterthought is present, making the homicide a murder.

Malice is either express or implied. Express malice is the specific communication to kill the victim while malice is implied when the following are present:

• The homicide was a result of an intentional act;
• The consequences of the act are dangerous to human life;
• The act was performed deliberately with the knowledge of its danger and the conscious disregard for human life;

The crime of first degree murder is committed through any of the following means:

• Use of a destructive device or explosive, weapons of mass destruction or ammunition designed to penetrate armor or metal, means to release poison or viral agents;
• Use of ambush or use of torture as defined by California’s Torture Law (Sec 206 PC)
• Willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of a person;
• A specific felony was committed turns homicide into first degree murder;

There is also what is called capital murder. This is committed when murder has attendant special circumstances and the penalty imposable is either the imposition of the death penalty or life imprisonment without the chance of parole (LWOP). The following are some of the special circumstances that makes murder into capital murder:

• The killing is for financial gain;
• The killing had more than one victim;
• The killing of a police officer, firefighter, prosecutor, judge, juror or elected official;
• The killing of a witness to prevent testifying in a case;
• The killing was committed on the occasion of another felony thus within the first degree felony-murder rule;
• The killing of another person because of race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin;
• The killing was done through the use of a motor vehicle;
• The killing was for the benefit of a street gang;

The crime of murder is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.