How to Fight a Murder Charge
Being charged with a murder or homicide crime can be an intimidating experience. Prosecutors and police often appear to have all the power. However, there are a number of approaches to fighting these types of charges, and a successful defense can result in no criminal outcome or a substantially reduced sentence.
To fight and win homicide and murder cases, an experienced Los Angeles murder defense lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. will typically take the following steps:
- Investigate the Facts — To find weakness in the prosecution’s case. Spolin Law P.C. frequently retains private investigators and experts for homicide cases. Outside experts, such as medical doctors, psychiatrists, and electronic-evidence specialists are brought in as needed to find potential shortfalls in the prosecution’s case, or any discrepancies in witness testimony or physical evidence.
- File Legal Motions to Dismiss — The case or to drop certain charges. Prosecutors will often file multiple charges in a case and can even add inappropriate charges to put pressure on the defendant to plead guilty. Motions to dismiss certain counts can be successful in limiting exposure and sometimes result in a dismissal of the entire case. When appropriate, the Los Angeles murder defense attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. also seek a dismissal based on insufficient evidence at the preliminary hearing and trial stage.
- File Legal Motions to Suppress Illegal Evidence — If law enforcement has broken certain laws, evidence may be prevented from being used at trial. Successful suppression motions can limit what evidence the prosecutor can unveil at trial and lead to a favorable plea deal, dismissal, or a stronger defense during trial.
- Present Legal Defenses — To the murder charge. As discussed in the next section, several legal defenses can be presented at trial that, if successful, will result in a not-guilty verdict.
- Present a Strong Case During Trial — Sometimes presenting a strong case at trial is the best defense for those who’ve been wrongly accused. When true, the Los Angeles murder defense lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. will demonstrate to the jury and judge that the evidence resented by the prosecution does not prove the defendant’s guilt. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, the result must be a finding of “not guilty.” Winning at trial is discussed in greater detail further below.
- How to Fight Homicide Charges
- Defenses to Homicide Charges
- Strategic Legal Motions
- Winning at Trial
These steps can help you fight homicide charges. Spolin Law P.C.’s success in defending people accused of homicide crimes is based on our comprehensive approach.
Defenses to Murder Charges in California
There are a number of valid legal defenses that will prevent a conviction for murder or result in a reduced charge. Spolin Law P.C.’s approach to defending murder cases relies in part on examining, arguing, and proving all valid defenses pertinent to the case.
Murder defenses generally fall under two categories:
- the wrong person has been accused/charged, or
- the defendant did commit the act, but with adequate justification or other mitigating factors. Examples of legal defenses to murder charges include:
- Mistaken identity — No one should be convicted of a crime they did not commit. Raising this defense involves showing how the prosecutor’s case does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Self Defense — If you kill another person while defending yourself from violent action from that person, you may be justified based on California’s self-defense laws. The self-defense action must be proportional (“you can’t bring a gun to a fistfight”). This defense is one of the most popular, as homicide crimes are frequently committed in response to threatening actions.
- Defense of Others — In a similar vein, should you believe that another person is under a threat to life or limb, you might be justified in using proportional force in another’s defense. This should result in a not-guilty verdict if proven.
- Insanity — To be proven “not guilty by reason of insanity” the defendant and his attorneys must convince the court by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the accused did not understand the nature of the act or could not distinguish right from wrong.
- Inadvertent Act — Conviction for murder requires that the accused intended to commit the act that resulted in the killing. If the act was unintentional, then charges will have to be reduced or dropped. For example, if your car tire blows out and you swerve into a pedestrian, killing the pedestrian, you have likely committed an inadvertent act that should not result in criminal penalties.
To learn about these and other possible defenses to murder charges, call a Los Angeles murder attorney for a 100% free consultation today at (310) 424-5816.
- How to Fight Homicide Charges
- Defenses to Homicide Charges
- Strategic Legal Motions
- Winning at Trial
Legal Motions to Dismiss a Possible Los Angeles Murder Charge
Law enforcement must follow the law if they wish to punish another for breaking the law; legal motions help ensure that this principle is followed. Successful motions made by the defense serve to bolster the defendant’s position while weakening the prosecution’s case, and can lead to outright dismissal. Some of the more common legal motions in murder cases include…
Motion to Dismiss the Case
The bases can include:
- the lack of “jurisdiction” (which refers to the ability of a certain court to hear the case)
- the inability of the prosecutor to demonstrate probable cause at the preliminary hearing
- the excess amount of time between the alleged crime and the filing of charges
- the excess amount of time between the filing of charges and the commencement of trial
- the failure of the prosecutor to present a necessary element of the crime
- any of a number of other possible bases for dismissal
Motion to Suppress Illegal Evidence
As mentioned above, this is about your constitutional rights, which protect you from illegal or overzealous actions by police that result in illegal searches and/or self-incrimination. When the defense seeks to “suppress” illegal evidence, it means that the prosecution cannot use the evidence at trial, so it weakens or eliminates the prosecution’s case. Suppression of evidence is the only effective check on the government’s ability to use coercive or abusive force.
Motion to Prevent Certain Prosecution Testimony
Before trial begins, an effective Los Angeles murder defense attorney may file motions “in limine.” These motions involve a request for the judge to prevent the prosecutor from using evidence that is not allowed under the evidence code. Motions in limine are similar to the oral objections that you may hear at trial (for example: “Objection! Speculation!”). However, motions in limine filed before or during trial explain why the evidence should not be presented in the first place, and they usually involve a higher level of depth and research that is then presented to the judge. An example of a successful motion in limine might be a motion asking the judge to prevent the prosecutor from letting the fingerprint expert testify that he personally believes the defendant is lying.
Motion to Dismiss an Improper Charge
Prosecutors frequently file an array of charges against a suspected murderer in order to “make something stick.” The prosecutor usually thinks that he or she should simply accuse the defendant of all possible crimes that may have been committed (instead of simply charging the defendant with the crimes that the evidence supports). Motions to dismiss improper or unsupported charges can come at nearly any stage of the criminal proceeding. Successful dismissal of certain charges can drastically reduce the possible penalties that an accused person may face. They may also effectively force a prosecutor to offer a better plea deal.
At Spolin Law P.C., our Los Angeles murder defense lawyers will file these and other motions when applicable. Call our criminal defense law firm for a review of your case to determine which, if any, legal motions are appropriate for your defense.
Is it Possible to Overcome a Murder Charge?
Innocent people are accused of crimes every day in this country. This includes murder charges. If a prosecutor is unwilling to dismiss or reduce charges, fighting to win at trial may be the best approach. Winning at trial can include a number of actions:
- Attacking the Prosecution’s Case — One of the most effective methods to win at trial is to show how the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is a high standard. If the prosecution has not met their burden, it means they have not proven the defendant’s guilt and he or she must be found not guilty.
- Presenting Defense Testimony — Success in murder cases can rest in large part on presenting defense witnesses and evidence. This can include eyewitnesses as well as experts or investigators hired by the defense team. Bringing in a murder investigator from the beginning of the case helps us understand what happened and lets us examine evidence that the prosecution may have overlooked or misinterpreted.
- Hiring a Good Murder Defense Lawyer — If you want to win your trial, hiring a skilled and successful murder defense attorney should be your number one priority. At the end of the day, your trial case is only as strong as the lawyer presenting it.
Getting the Best Criminal Defense — What You Need to Consider
When facing a murder charge, choosing the right criminal defense attorney will be the most important decision you make, as the outcome can impact the rest of the accused person’s life.
Spolin Law P.C. devotes significant resources to the defense of each client charged with a homicide crime, from the suppression of illegal evidence to the filing of dismissal motions and in-court advocacy. Los Angeles violent crimes lawyer Aaron Spolin, a former prosecutor and award-winning trial attorney, has a successful track record winning murder cases. His team also includes experienced murder defense attorneys Don Nguyen and Jeremy Cutcher, both of whom helped set the standard for representation at the firm.
Spolin Law P.C. attorneys Spolin, Nguyen, and Cutcher have been on the winning side of hundreds of cases, including multiple successful jury verdicts. The firm lawyers’ success is based in large part on:
- Thoroughly investigating the facts of each case
- Arguing for the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence
- Negotiating favorable plea deals with prosecutors
- Filing legal motions to vigilantly protect clients’ rights
- A record of success at trial
Why Trust the Los Angeles Murder Defense Lawyers at Spolin Law P.C.
To learn what you can expect from our representation, and to schedule a free consultation, contact a Los Angeles murder defense lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816.