Are You or a Family Member Facing a Murder or Manslaughter Charge In The State of California?

The Criminal Defense Attorneys at Tully & Weiss Law Firm Help People Arrested for Murder, Manslaughter and Other Violent Felonies Defend Their Case, Protect Their Rights and Preserve Their Future.

A charge of murder or other homicide in the state of California can result in the loss of freedom for years to life and, in some cases, the death penalty. The Tully and Weiss homicide defense team includes noted attorney author Joseph Tully, the Tully and Weiss legal team, private investigators, DNA experts, jury consultants and more.

Act quickly to preserve your rights. Contact the Tully & Weiss Law Firm now for a free consultation:
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

California Criminal Homicide Charges Include:

  • First-degree murder
  • Capital murder (first-degree murder with special circumstances)
  • Second-degree murder
  • First-degree felony-murder
  • Second-degree felony-murder
  • DUI murder (Watson murder)
  • Attempted murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Vehicular manslaughter

Arrest for homicide is always frightening. If you or a family member has been charged with murder or another homicide offense, choosing an attorney to prepare your case and protect your rights may be one of the most important decisions you ever make.

To discuss your murder/homicide charge in confidence with an experienced California murder defense lawyer, call the Tully & Weiss Law Firm:
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

What are the Penalties for a Murder Charge?

If you are charged with murder in the state of California, penalties can be severe, ranging from years in prison to the death penalty.  The following are guidelines to the penalties that may apply under the California Penal Code (PC).

  • First-degree murder (187 PC) (206 PC): Committing murder by killing a person in a way that is willful, deliberate and premeditated is a felony punishable by 25 years to life in California state prison. First-degree murder convictions based on a hate crimes (crimes committed based on race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or nationality) face a life without possibility of parole (LWOP) state prison sentence.
  • Capital murder (187 PC) (190.2 PC): Committing first-degree murder with special circumstances (meaning for financial gain, killing more than one victim, killing a peace officer, killing to prevent witness testimony, firing from a moving vehicle or other listed circumstances) is the most serious charge under California murder law, punishable by execution under the death penalty (lethal dose of gas or an intravenous injection of a lethal substance) or an LWOP state prison sentence.
  • Second-degree murder (187 PC): Committing murder by killing in a way that is willful, but not deliberate or premeditated is a felony punishable by 15 years to life in California state prison. Circumstances that can increase your sentence anywhere from 20 years to life to LWOP include previous murder convictions, firing from a vehicle or killing a peace officer.
  • First-degree felony-murder (187 PC) (189 PC): Committing murder (with or without intent) during the commission of arson, robbery, burglary, carjacking, train wrecking, kidnapping, mayhem, torture or sex crimes is a felony punishable by 25 years to life in California state prison. If the crime qualifies as Capital murder it is punishable by LWOP or execution under the California death penalty.
  • Second-degree felony-murder (187 PC) (189 PC): Committing murder (with or without intent) during the commission of a felony OTHER THAN those listed above (in 189 PC) is a felony punishable by 15 years to life in California state prison. If the victim is a peace officer, the sentence can increase to 25 years to life to LWOP.
  • Attempted murder (664 PC): Taking at least one direct step toward killing another person with the intent to kill that person is a felony. If willful, deliberate and premeditated it is punishable by life with possibility of parole. If the intended victim was a peace officer you are required to serve a minimum 15-year sentence. If not willful, deliberate and premeditated, it is punishable by a 5 to 9-year state prison sentence. Both cases include additional penalties of victim restitution, a maximum $10,000 fine, loss of the right to possess a firearm (29800 PC) and a strike on your criminal record pursuant to California’s three strikes law.
  • DUI murder (Watson murder) (187 PC): Committing murder while intoxicated and acting intentionally, with conscious disregard, in a way that is dangerous to human life is a felony punishable by 15 years to life in California state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and a strike on your criminal record pursuant to California’s three strikes law.
  • Murder with gang enhancement (187 PC) (186.22 PC): Committing murder at the direction of, for the benefit of, or in association with a criminal street gang subjects the accused to an additional minimum 15 years-to-life prison term (on top of the underlying sentence for murder).

The severity of penalties possible under California murder law demonstrate the critical necessity for representation by an experienced California criminal defense attorney.

Connect with leading California homicide criminal lawyers at the Tully & Weiss Law Firm today at to discuss your case and your best defense options.
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

What are the Penalties for a Manslaughter Charge?

Standard punishments for manslaughter under the California Penal Code are as follows:

  • Voluntary manslaughter (192(a) PC): Killing another person during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion (i.e. you were provoked in a way that would cause the average person to have obscured judgement and act rashly) is a felony punishable by a maximum of 11 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, a strike on your criminal record pursuant to California’s three strikes law, the loss of your right to possess a firearm, required community service and counseling.
  • Involuntary manslaughter (192(b) PC): Killing another person unintentionally while committing a non-dangerous crime or a lawful act that may produce death without due caution is a felony punishable by up to 4 years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Vehicular manslaughter (192(c) PC): Killing another person while driving a vehicle and committing an unlawful, non-felony, negligent act or a lawful negligent act that may cause death is either a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in county jail or a felony punishable by 6 years in state prison.

The criminal defense lawyers at Tully & Weiss Law Firm understand that ordinary people can get caught up in difficult situations which may not warrant the criminal penalties being pursued by the State of California. Our Alameda County and Contra Costa County California Criminal Attorneys are fearless and meticulous advocates for individual rights and liberty. Specializing exclusively in criminal law, the attorneys at Tully & Weiss Law Firm are experienced advocates for people facing homicide charges.

Call the Tully & Weiss Criminal Law Firm today to discuss your case and potential defense strategies.
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

What are the Strategies for Defending a Charge of Murder or Manslaughter?

If you or a family member has been arrested for murder or manslaughter in the state of California, a number of defenses may be available to you. The defense we develop will depend upon your criminal history and the specific circumstances involved. Some of the available defenses may include:

Disproving a Homicide Charge is a Full Defense

Each charge is defined by a group of elements. In criminal law, the prosecutor is required to prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt (meaning more than 50:50). Your defense attorney will work to demonstrate that one of the required elements is not present. Some of the comprehensive elements that must be proven for murder/homicide charges include:

  • Murder: The prosecutor must prove that you (1) committed an act that resulted in death to another person, (2) that you committed the act with malice aforethought (or wanton disregard for human life, acting with a high degree of probability that the act will result in death) and, (3) that you killed without lawful excuse of justification.
  • Felony-Murder: The prosecutor must prove that you (1) committed an act that resulted in death to another person, (2) that you committed the act in connection with the intentional commission of a felony and, (3) that you killed without lawful excuse of justification.
  • Attempted murder: The prosecutor must prove that you (1) took at least one direct step toward killing another person and, (2) intended to kill that person.
  • Manslaughter: The prosecutor must prove that you (1) committed an act that resulted in the death of another person, (2) the act was either inherently dangerous to others or done with reckless disregard for human life and, (3) you knew or should have known the act was a threat to the lives of others.

Self Defense or Defense of Others Can be a Complete Defense

If you reasonably believe that you or another person are in imminent danger of being killed, suffering great bodily injury, or being the victim of some other forcible crime, you may take reasonably necessary measures to defend yourself or others, including the use of deadly force.

Joseph Tully won the leading California Stand Your Ground Self Defense case recently in Contra Costa County resulting in the acquittal of his client.

Other Complete Defenses to Murder or Manslaughter Charges

  • Accidental death - If you had no criminal intent to harm another person, were not acting negligently and were otherwise engaged in lawful activity at the time of the killing, accident can serve as a valid legal defense.
  • Insanity defense - Governed by the McNaghten Rule, if you did not understand the nature of your act or you could not distinguish between right and wrong, this defense entitles you to acquittal.
  • Mistaken identification - If the identity of the person who caused death is questionable, a criminal defense lawyer can attempt to demonstrate that the identification is unreliable and that a reasonable doubt exists as to the identity of the accused.
  • Illegal search and seizure - If the police gathered evidence during the search of your person, vehicle, or other property in an unconstitutional manner, or if police used an improperly created search warrant or searched areas outside the scope of the search warrant, the evidence may be suppressed and will not be eligible for use against you in court.
  • Police misconduct or entrapment - If the police engage in inappropriate or illegal actions or use false arrest, intimidation, brutality, racial profiling or other abuses of power, or if a police officer induces a person to commit a criminal offense that the person would have otherwise been unlikely to commit, charges may be dismissed, convictions reversed, or sentences reduced.
  • Prosecutorial misconduct - If the prosecutor attempts to sway the jury to wrongly convict a defendant or to impose a harsher than appropriate punishment, charges may be dismissed, convictions reversed, or sentences reduced.

Tully & Weiss Law Firm Attorneys’ meticulous preparation consistently uncovers reasonable doubt by identifying every imperfection in the prosecutor’s case, discrediting unreliable witnesses, excluding tainted evidence, spotlighting police misconduct and identifying legitimate alternative fact narratives.

There is always a defense to a California homicide charge if you act quickly. Prosecutors are already hard at work proving their case against you. Contact a member of the Tully & Weiss Criminal Defense Team at to learn your defense options.
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

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