Murder is the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought can be defined as the intent, actual or implied, to kill someone else. The actual intent is when a person truly means to kill someone. The implied intent is when a person wishes harm someone, but ends up killing them. It does not have to be proven that the victim and the murderer hated each other. If someone were to kill someone without planning it that would be considered manslaughter. Or if someone is doing something reckless that ends up with someone dead, that would also be considered manslaughter. Manslaughter is a type of homicide [People vs. Morrin, 187 N. W.2d 434 (Mich. 1971)]. Malice aforethought can be proven it the prosecution can show the defendant intended to commit a felony. When someone plans to commit a felony and they kill somebody, that malice is implied. This is called a felony murder rule.
There are two types of murder, first degree murder and second degree murder. First degree murder is premeditated. Premeditation means the intent to kill is formed with some reflection, deliberation, reasoning or weighing, rather than simply on a sudden impulse. Basically, it’s when you plan it out or have thought about it. There are three special ways that murder can be classified as premeditated. The first way is if a killing is done during one of these serious crimes: arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, mayhem, and sexual molestation of a child(CA Penal Code 189). The second way it can be shown a killing is first degree murder is if the defendant uses poison, a bomb, or ambush. The third way is if the killer tortures the victim. Torture means that there is intent to inflict pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge or humiliation [State vs. Brock, 416 P.2d 601(Ariz. 1966)]. All murders that aren’t first degree murders are considered second degree murders.
Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that would be considered murder if not for having committed the murder in response to certain provocation. These situations are thought of as being without malice aforethought, which is the key difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder. The requirements for a case to go from murder to manslaughter are the following: 1.) There must have been a provocation that would cause a reasonable person to lose control and react rashly, 2.) The defendant actually must have been provoked, which in term caused the defendant to kill the victim, 3.) The time from the provocation and the killing must not have been long enough for the defendant to cool down, and 4.) The defendant must not have actually cooled down from the provocation. Another thing that is necessary is that the provocation must be bad enough to cause a level headed person to murder another in the heat of passion. What provocation qualifies for manslaughter is subjective.
Contact the Visalia criminal defense lawyer at the firm if you have been charged or are being investigated in Fresno of Visalia for criminal offenses today.