San Diego Attempted Murder Attorney

San Diego Attempted Murder LawyerSan Diego Violent Crime Lawyer
California's "Attempted Murder" Law is a very serious charge with severe consequences (including the possibility of life in prison).  Pursuant to Penal Code Sections 187 (murder) and PC 664 (criminal attempt), the government must prove that there was an intent to kill a specific person and that there was at least one "direct step" toward killing that person.  Some related charges include: Murder (PC 187), Mayhem (PC 203), Torture (PC 206), Assault (PC 240), Assault with a Deadly Weapon (PC 245), shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle (PC 246) and Drive-by shootings (PC 26100).

Proving attempted murder is complex and a tough task for prosecutors, especially when the defendant has skilled, knowledgeable representation. 
Proving intent to kill can be difficult because of the abstract nature of human thought.  While our actions can demonstrate intent to act, it is certainly conceivable that an attack can take place without intent to kill.  An intent to severely injure or maim another person is not enough.  Therefore the facts, and the persuasive presentation of those facts is very important to making this determination.

As for the "direct step" it is important to note that a direct step must me more than merely planning, preparing or contemplating a murder.  Buying a weapon, going to a location where the intended victim may be and other similar behavior does not qualify as an "attempt" under California criminal law.  The direct step can involve using a weapon (e.g. firing a gun), poisoning someone's food or drink, etc.

Defenses to Attempted Murder go beyond stopping the government from proving its elements of intent to kill and a direct step, but the two most common defenses are arguing that there was no "direct step" or that there was no intent to kill.  Other defenses include false accusation, mistaken identity, self-defense and more.

Attempted Murder is a felony, and like murder is divided into first and second degree.
  Those convicted of first-degree (premeditated) attempted murder are punishable by life in prison.  Second-degree murder is punishable by five to nine years in California State Prison.  There are enhanced penalties for gang-related crimes, use of a weapon, prior convictions and for crimes involving protected victims (e.g. police officers).  Attempted murder is also a "strike" under California's three strike's law.  This means that even less serious crimes will be punished more harshly in the future after a conviction for a strike offense.

Attempt crimes (called "inchoate" crimes), are often punished less harshly than crimes that have been completed.  The primary reason for this is that harm does affect sentencing.  In attempt murder cases, the victim is still alive, a generally accepted better outcome.  Nevertheless, attempted murder is among the most serious crimes on the books in California.  If you or a loved one is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, mayhem, shooting at an inhabited dwelling/occupied vehicle, etc.  Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Loncar now for a free consultation with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.  We can discuss the details of your case, possible charges, your defenses and get started on a plan that protects your rights and freedom.

1. Jim, an professional fighter, gets into a bar fight and seriously injures someone.  The victim ends up in the hospital in critical condition.  Jim is arrested and the officers book him under Attempted Murder charges.  The officers made an error.  Despite Jim's training and abilities, and the seriousness of the victim's injuries, there is not enough evidence of intent to kill.  Therefore attempted murder is not the right charge.  These charges should be reduced to assault or aggravated assault, and may be subject to California's self-defense law.

2.  George and Ron are gang-members seeking to enforce their boundaries against an encroaching gang.  They have machine guns and plan to ride by on their motorcycles to open fire on the group.  George changes his mind and says he will not go through with the plan just as they are about to head over.  Ron rides down the street and opens fire with the machine guns, shooting one of the men in the leg.  Ron rides back to where George is and they are both cornered by San Diego PD officers.  George and Ron are both arrested and charged with attempted murder.  The charges are incorrect because George withdrew before committing a direct step to complete the attempted murder.  Ron did not intend to kill anyone, as evidenced by his decision to aim for his victims' legs.

3.  Leo is arrested because he fits the description of a convenience store armed robbery/shooting suspect.  The suspect shot the store clerk in the chest, and the clerk was transported to a hospital and survived.  Leo was handcuffed outside when the police brought a witness (a customer in the store) by to identify him.  The witness positively identifies Leo as the shooter.  Leo's attorney should argue that the identification was "suggestive" because he was handcuffed and in police custody.  Additionally, the fact that Leo was identified as the perpetrator while being the only option (as opposed to being picked out of a line-up or photo six-pack), makes the identification less reliable, and that is the only evidence tying Leo to the crime.  He did not have a gun on him when arrested.

To discuss your specific case and possible defenses, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Loncar for a Free Consultation with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.  619.930.9515.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego Expungements Lawyer
By Nicholas Loncar   


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