Second-Degree Murder in California – Is It Different Than What Zimmerman Faces?
It made national news quickly—an unarmed 17-year-old was shot and killed in Florida. Now, the alleged perpetrator, George Zimmerman, is at the center of heated debates. He faces charges of second-degree murder and, if convicted, he could be facing years behind bars.
While this case is in Florida, it has raised a lot of questions regarding second-degree murder charges in California and how our state punishes this type of crime. Before going into the specific penalties associated with second-degree murder, it is first important to understand how murder is defined by our state. According to California Penal Code Section 187, murder is described as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Murder falls into two classifications—first degree and second degree.
First-Degree Murder v. Second-Degree Murder
If you killed someone willfully or deliberately, you could be charged with first-degree murder (there are many other factors that can lead to this charge, which should be discussed with an attorney). Second-degree murder charges typically involve an extremely high degree of recklessness and carelessness.
Punishment for Second-Degree Murder
Just like Zimmerman, if you are accused of second-degree murder, in California you could be facing jail time. California Penal Code Section 190 states that “murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life.” However, just because you are charged with second-degree murder doesn’t necessarily mean you are destined to be behind bars. You can defend yourself and an attorney can help.
How an Attorney Can Help
An experienced lawyer will be able to review the evidence against you and build a strong defense on your behalf. For example, an attorney may be able to weaken the prosecution’s case and help prove your innocence.
For more information or advice about your case, contact an expert Torrance criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein at 310-375-5858. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.