San Jose Homicide Lawyer
Have you been arrested for homicide in San Jose, CA? The consequences of a conviction are among the most serious of any crime and could haunt you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, you are innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Our San Jose homicide lawyers with Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, have 30 years of experience collectively. Since our criminal defense law firm was founded in 2005, we have won more than 3,000 cases and have successfully defended 50 criminal trials. We’re ready to put that expertise to work for you.
To get started, contact our law office in San Jose at (408) 217-8818 or send us a message online. We offer a free initial consultation to provide legal advice and review your case.
How Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, Can Help if You’re Facing Homicide Charges in San Jose
You might feel overwhelmed after you’ve been charged with homicide in San Jose, California, which is completely understandable. California is notorious for imposing severe sentences for certain crimes involving violence and firearms, not to mention its Three Strikes rule. It might feel like you have nobody on your side and nowhere to turn.
These concerns make sense, and you only have one chance to present your best possible defense when you’re up against criminal charges like these. When the stakes are this high, you’ll need an especially strong and zealous advocate in your corner. Look no further than Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law. Our legal team includes a California State Bar Certified Specialist in criminal law and a nationally-published criminal defense author. We’ll be able to help fight your charges by:
- Keeping you apprised of your case’s status and your legal options at all times
- Internally investigating your case to collect any exculpatory evidence and assess the merits of the prosecution’s evidence against you
- Ensuring your rights and interests and protected at each stage of your case
- Negotiating with the prosecution to have your charges dismissed or reduced, if that is an option
- Represent you in front of a jury at trial if the circumstances call for it
We’ll listen to your side of the story and work with you to begin formulating the defense that fits the facts and circumstances of your case. It’s not too late to assert your rights and obtain the strong legal representation you deserve. Contact us today for more information about how we can help or if you’d like to begin forming an attorney-client relationship.
An Overview of Homicide Law in California
Homicide refers to the unlawful killing of another human being and is covered by Sections 187-199 of the California Penal Code. Homicide may be charged as either murder or manslaughter. California law recognizes first-degree murder and second-degree murder and voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular manslaughter.
California Penal Code Section 187 PC defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought refers to the state of mind of the accused at the time of the alleged murder.
First-degree murder is the more serious type of murder charge in California. The prosecution must demonstrate premeditation or deliberate planning as well as intent in order to convict. California Penal Code Section 189 PC describes the circumstances that can give rise to a first-degree murder charge. All other murders will be charged in the second degree as per the statute.
The prosecution still must prove malice aforethought in order to convict on second-degree murder charges, but it need not show premeditation, deliberation, or one of the circumstances listed in Section 189 PC.
California Penal Code Section 192 PC covers manslaughter. In general, California defines manslaughter as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.” From there, it describes what constitutes voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular manslaughter, respectively.
Voluntary manslaughter is when the killing is “upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” The primary difference between this charge and a murder charge is that the prosecution does not have to prove that the killing was committed with malice, premeditation, or deliberation.
Involuntary manslaughter covers situations where someone is killed unintentionally. A person may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if someone is killed recklessly during a lawful activity or when someone is killed unintentionally during the commission of another crime.
Vehicular manslaughter, as the name suggests, occurs when a person unintentionally kills someone else while operating a vehicle. This may occur when someone is operating a vehicle recklessly, for example.
California amended its felony murder rule in 2018. With this new rule, one may only be charged with felony murder if they had a more direct role in the killing – either as a major participant, via aiding and abetting, or directly kill the person during the commission of a felony or attempted felony. If an on-duty peace officer was killed, that can also still give rise to a felony murder charge.
Capital Murder in California is covered by California Penal Code Section 190.2 PC. This section describes 22 “special circumstances” that, if one or more is met, allow for significantly more severe penalties if the accused is convicted. These circumstances can apply to especially serious first-degree murder charges.
California’s Three Strikes rule may also apply in some homicide cases. If the accused has two prior felony convictions on their criminal record, they may be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison if the third felony is “serious or violent.” Any homicide charge will likely fall under this category.
What Are the Penalties of a Homicide Conviction in San Jose, California?
The penalties for a homicide conviction in California vary drastically depending on the charge, but are some of the most serious under California law. Every homicide charge is a felony charge. The possible penalties for a murder or manslaughter conviction are:
- 25 years to life in state prison for first-degree murder
- 15 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder
- 3 to 11 years in state prison for voluntary manslaughter
- Up to 4 years in state prison for involuntary manslaughter
- Up to 6 years in state prison for vehicular manslaughter
- Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
- Death penalty, though it should be noted this possibility is currently under a temporary moratorium
LWOP may be issued as a penalty for Capital Murder cases, as discussed above. In other cases, parole may be a possibility, as is probation in the case of lesser charges like involuntary manslaughter. Fines are also a possible penalty in all cases.
In addition to the penalties described above, there are serious collateral consequences of a homicide conviction in San Jose, California. Each of these charges is a felony, and a felony criminal record can make it difficult to obtain housing or employment, even after you have served the penalties imposed by the court. You may also face immigration issues, if applicable. These consequences apply to all felony convictions but apply even more strongly to homicide convictions.
What Defenses Are Available if I’ve Been Accused of Homicide in San Jose, CA?
There are many defenses available to you if you’ve been charged with homicide in San Jose. The prosecution must prove every legal element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt, including your state of mind at the time of the alleged homicide. This is not an easy task in many instances, considering the difficulty in proving a person’s internal state of mind combined with the high level of certainty that the beyond a reasonable doubt threshold carries.
With that in mind, the exact defenses will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. However, possibilities include:
- Your constitutional rights were violated, for example an unlawful search and seizure
- You did not have the required state of mind at the time of the alleged homicide
- Mistaken identity
- You acted in self-defense
- You were defending another person
- Insanity or lack of mental capacity
Our San Jose homicide lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case and the prosecution’s case against you in order to determine your best course of action.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Reputable San Jose Homicide Lawyer
Homicide charges are serious criminal offenses that cannot be ignored or overlooked; they must be dealt with head-on. You’re innocent until proven guilty, and you still have an opportunity to defend yourself. If you hire Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, you can rest assured that you’ll have a fearless team of experienced litigators at your side.
We’ve won thousands of criminal cases and have taken 50 to trial. Our San Jose homicide lawyers will be prepared to do what it takes to present the best version of your defense. Call today to set up your free case review with an experienced criminal defense attorney.