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Penal Code 664-187(a) Attempted Murder

Respected Southern California Criminal Defense Lawyers Defending Clients Charged with Violent Crimes

California police, prosecutors and judges take an aggressive approach to the enforcement of violent crimes. And, while murder is by far the most serious violent crime in the California Penal Code, attempted murder is taken almost as seriously. Under California Penal Code § 187 and § 664, attempted murder is the attempted but unsuccessful, unlawful killing of a human being with “malice aforethought.” The punishment for attempted murder varies, depending on the degree of the underlying offense, but carries a punishment up to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

At Power Trial Lawyers, we’ve assembled a dedicated team of Southern California criminal defense attorneys who have extensive experience defending the rights, freedoms and futures of clients charged with attempted murder. Power Trial Lawyers is a sought after law firm experienced in handling criminal defense cases through all stages. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to all prospective clients, so give us a call to learn more about how we can help you fight your case.

The Elements of Penal Code 664-187(a) Attempted Murder

Attempted murder involves two sections of the California Penal Code. First, § 187, California’s murder statute, which provides that “[m]urder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Essentially, this means that the defendant either intended to cause the victim’s death (direct malice) or engaged in conduct that showed an extreme indifference to the value of human life (indirect malice).

Second, attempted murder necessarily involves California’s attempt statute under Penal Code § 664. This statute provides that anyone who attempts to commit a crime but fails to do so shall be punished according to the framework outlined in § 664.

Thus, when these two statutes are viewed together, the elements that the prosecution must prove in an attempted murder case are:

  1. Intent to Kill – You must have had the specific intent to kill another person or engaged in conduct illustrating a disregard for the value of human life.
  2. Direct Action – You must have taken a direct but unsuccessful action towards killing the person. This means you did something beyond just planning or preparing to commit the murder.
  3. Ineffectiveness of the Attempt –The attempted murder did not result in the death of the victim. The failure could be due to various reasons, such as being stopped by someone else or the victim surviving the attack.

Note that if you used a deadly weapon during the attempt, this can be an aggravating factor that may result in harsher penalties. Additionally, if the prosecution can prove that you planned the murder ahead of time and thought it through, it will likely mean that you’ll be facing charges of attempted murder in the first degree.

Punishments for Attempted Murder under Penal Code 664-187(a)

Under Penal Code § 664, California law provides for two different degrees of attempted murder. Attempted murder in the first degree involves a willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing or one that was committed during an attempt to commit any of the following:

  • Arson,
  • Rape,
  • Carjacking,
  • Robbery,
  • Burglary,
  • Kidnapping,
  • Mayhem,
  • Trainwrecking,
  • Torture,
  • Sodomy,
  • Drive-by shooting,
  • Oral copulation of a minor,
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, or
  • Forcible penetration with a foreign object.

The punishment for attempted murder in the first degree is life in prison with the possibility of parole.

All other attempted murders are considered attempted murder of the second degree. The punishment for attempted murder in the second degree is imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years.

The Impact of Enhancements Can Dramatically Increase an Attempted Murder Sentence

California law contains over 100 sentencing enhancements. A sentencing enhancement is an additional fact that, if the prosecution can prove, will result in a certain number of years being added to a person’s sentence. Firearm enhancements, gang enhancements, and prior conviction enhancements are all very common across California.

For example, under Penal Code § 186(b), anyone convicted of a crime that was for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang and was committed with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in criminal conduct by gang members, is subject to a “gang enhancement.” Gang enhancements vary in length based on the type of underlying crime. A base gang enhancement will add 2, 3, or 4 years; however, this increases to five or 10 years if the crime was a serious felony or a violent felony respectively.

Recent Legislation Significantly Reduces the Applicability of Many Enhancements

While California has many different sentencing enhancements, recent criminal justice reforms have resulted in many of these enhancements being used less frequently. For example, Assembly Bill 333 makes it more difficult for prosecutors to prove that a crime was committed to benefit a gang, requiring additional evidence that connects the crime to gang activity. Another example is Senate Bill 483, which renders qualifying enhancements under Section 11370.2 and 667.5(b) to be “legally invalid.”

Those facing sentencing enhancements in an attempted murder case must consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

Discuss Your Case with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you’ve recently been charged with attempted murder, your choice of which lawyer you select to represent you will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your case. At Power Trial Lawyers, Matthew Barhoma and his team of Southern California criminal defense attorneys are passionate about defending the rights and freedoms of our clients. We fight hard and fight smart on behalf of each of our clients, aggressively pursuing the best possible result in even the toughest cases. To learn more about Power Trial Lawyers and to schedule a free consultation today, give us a call at (213)800-7664. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

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