The state of California uses two classifications to distinguish murder charges. The first – murder in the first degree – refers to any unlawful killing of a human being that was accompanied by malicious aforethought. In other words, the murder was intentional and premeditated or it occurred during the commission of a separate violent crime. Any unlawful killing of a human being that was not accompanied by malicious aforethought or carried out during the commission of a separate violent crime is classified as murder in the second degree.
Murder in the second degree may be charged if:
- Someone was unintentionally killed during a fight
- Someone was killed in a sudden fit of rage
- Someone was mistakenly killed in place of someone else
Though second-degree murder charges are generally less severe than first degree charges, they can still result in lifetime imprisonment. The minimum sentence for a first-degree murder conviction in California is 25 years in prison. Life imprisonment without parole is required for all murders that involve a specified set of circumstances. The Law Office of Albert Perez Jr has the necessary skills to help defend you if you have been charged with a serious crime.