There is simply no way to overstate the seriousness of a murder charge. Most people understand the ramifications of being arrested for committing the act of murder. Even being investigated for the crime can have a negative impact on your reputation. And of course, those convicted of murder may be issued the most severe penalties permitted by the legal system.
And while fighting a murder charge is a daunting task, it is important to remember that every defendant has rights, and his or her side of the story should be told. To this end, there are several forms of defense that could be employed to lower a murder charge to manslaughter. The primary factor examined is the intent. In other words, what compelled the defendant to take the life of another?
Well, one possible reason could be that the act was justified, and the defendant acted in self-defense. A successful plea of self-defense requires proving that the defendant had good reason to believe that the victim posed a genuine threat of causing serious injury or death.
Given the circumstances of the event, it is also possible to argue that the defendant acted to protect someone else from being killed or seriously injured. In cases of both defending others and self-defense, it must be demonstrated that the force used by the defendant was in proportion to the threat posed by the victim.
Prosecutors sometimes act overzealously when attempting to get a murder conviction when the facts demonstrate that a less severe manslaughter charge is more appropriate. This means that having a strong defense may be a key element to having justice properly served.
If you or someone you love is facing murder charges, contacting a California criminal defense attorney could be an important step in preparing an effective defense. The attorney may be able to help see that the charges are not unfairly excessive given the nature of the event in question.