While they are not murder charges, attempted murder allegations could be just as severe in the eyes of the law. Apart from the lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines, a conviction for an attempted murder charge could also affect your professional life. Therefore, it is a wise idea to retain the services of a skilled attorney if you are in trouble with the law as a suspect in an attempted murder case.
Without the services of an attorney, you could lose opportunities to prove your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt for a less severe charge or dismissal of the case. Experienced attorneys at Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm understand how confusing and stressful it can be if you are under arrest or investigation in an attempted murder case in Pasadena.
Our attorneys will go that extra mile, including hiring expert investigators and witnesses to prepare bullet-proof defenses to counter the alleged attempted murder charge for the best attainable outcome.
What to Remember After an Arrest as a Suspect in an Attempted Murder Case
Undoubtedly, being under arrest is a frightening and confusing experience for anyone. Even if you are innocent, you could end up behind bars for hours or days before the outcome of the alleged charge. Knowing what to do and not do if you are in trouble with the law is vital to stay on the safe side of the law. Here is what to remember after an arrest for an attempted murder charge:
You Have a Constitutional Right to Remain Silent
Most people do not know it, but you can avoid making your case severe or worse by remaining silent after an arrest. The arresting officers could ask you some questions during the case’s investigation process, but you do not have to answer any of their tricky questions.
Anything you decide to disclose to the officers can and will apply against you in court, lessening your chances of winning the alleged charge. Therefore, to protect your best interests and legal rights if you are under arrest for an attempted murder charge, it is a wise idea to remain silent. If the officers insist that they want some answers from you, tell them to talk to your attorney.
You Have a Constitutional Right to Have an Attorney As Your Legal Counsel
Having a defense attorney in your corner is critical if you are under investigation or arrest for an attempted murder charge. Your defense attorney will fight for your best interest through every stage of the criminal justice system for a favorable outcome on the alleged charge.
You Have a Constitutional Right to Post Bail
Typically, 24 hours or 48 hours after an arrest, you will attend your first court hearing, also known as an arraignment. During this court proceeding, the judge will read the allegations you are up against and inform you of your constitutional rights. You will also have a chance to enter a plea of your choice, including:
When you decide to enter a “not guilty” plea, as most defendants would do, you should be ready to fight your case at trial. Since you are still innocent of the alleged attempted murder charge, your attorney will help you review your bail options. Bail is typically the amount the court will want as security for your freedom before the alleged case’s trial date.
The court could give you a chance to post bail if the following is true:
You are not a threat to the victim and the public at large
You are not a flight risk or likely to flee the country
You do not have a criminal background
If you cannot afford the total required bail amount immediately, you can seek the services of a bail bond agent. A bail agent could post the entire bail amount on your behalf under the following conditions:
You pay him/her 10% of your total bail amount as fees for his/her prompt and much-needed services
You must avail yourself during the scheduled court proceedings on time as required
You give him/her collateral for the significant amount of money he/she is putting at risk on your behalf
If you are eligible to post bail, your attorney will guide you on what to do to have your freedom as soon as possible.
Elements of Attempted Murder Under Penal Code 664
According to Penal Code (PC) 664, you commit an attempted murder crime when you try or attempt to kill another person or perhaps a fetus, but you ultimately fail to succeed. During your case trial, which could happen weeks, months, or years after the arraignment hearing, the prosecutor presiding over your case will carry the legal burden to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
You Had the Intent to Kill the Targeted Victim or Accuser
The most critical defining element of crime in an attempted murder charge under PC 664 is the intent to murder the targeted victim, meaning your actions were deliberate and premeditated. Convincing the court that you had the intent to kill the targeted victim could be a challenging legal issue. It is not enough to argue that you had the intent to injure or scare the targeted victim for a conviction under PC 664.
The prosecutor will rely on the case’s circumstantial evidence to prove this element. For instance, the prosecutor can argue that you had the intent to murder or kill if the injuries on the alleged targeted victim were on the upper section of his/her body because most vital and delicate organs are here.
However, if these injuries are on the victim’s lower part of the body, your attorney can argue that you had the intent to injure the person for a less severe charge with less severe penalties. In many attempted murder cases, there are no injuries at all. If that is the situation, the prosecutor will rely on other circumstantial evidence to prove this element for a conviction under PC 664.
You Did Take a Direst Step to Accomplish Murder
A direct step to accomplish murder is more than just planning. The term “direct step” means you did take tangible action to accomplish your premeditated murder plan, even if you did not kill the targeted victim.
For instance, buying a pen knife is not a direct step in an attempted murder case. However, stabbing the targeted victim with the pen knife in the shoulder or chest is a direct step kill. You could be guilty of the alleged attempted murder charge even if you did not proceed with your plans or efforts to commit the crime as long as the prosecutor can prove a “direct step” towards killing the targeted victim.
As you can see, the attempted murder law under PC 664 can be complex. It is wise to hire an attorney as soon as possible if you want to stand a chance of attaining the best possible outcome on the alleged attempted murder charge. An experienced attorney will know the best defense arguments to apply to your unique case for a less severe charge or dismissal of the entire case.
Potential Penalties for a Conviction Under PC 644
As mentioned above, penalties for an attempted murder charge conviction can be severe. Generally speaking, the penalties you could be subject to for an attempted murder charge conviction are half of what you could be subject to for murder (the accomplished crime).
Like murder offense (PC 187), attempted murder has two degrees. Explained below are the potential penalties for each of these types of attempted murder charges:
First (1st) Degree Attempted Murder
Typically, the prosecutor will file your case as first (1st) degree attempted murder if he/she has the evidence to prove that your acts were willful and deliberate. A conviction for first (1st) degree attempted murder will make you subject to life in the state prison.
However, there are chances that you could qualify for parole which could work out to your advantage to avoid serving your sentence behind bars.
Second (2nd) Degree Attempted Murder
On the other hand, second (2nd) degree attempted murder is any attempted murder case that does not qualify as first-degree murder. That means your alleged acts were not deliberate, willful, or premeditated. According to PC 664, a conviction for a second (2nd) degree attempted murder will make you subject to up to five (5), seven (7), or nine (9) years in the state prison.
In addition to the incarceration time, a conviction for an attempted murder charge will also make you subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000. If you are eligible for a parole or probation, the court will require you to comply with particular conditions and restrictions, including:
No drinking alcohol
Stay away from the targeted victim or accuser
Check-in with a probation officer regularly
Complete a drug treatment program
Pay damages to the victim
Participate in community service
Other Possible Consequences of a Conviction for PC 664 Violation
During the sentencing hearing, the court could also impose a sentencing enhancement which will be additional and consecutive to the underlying standard penalties for PC 664 violation. Depending on your case facts and criminal history, a conviction for a PC 664 violation could also attract the following additional consequences:
Use of a Gun Enhancement
According to PC 12022.53, “use a gun, and you are done law,” your sentence for an attempted murder charge will become severe if you had to use a gun to commit the offense. Typically, a conviction for attempted murder with a firearm or gun will attract the following consecutive and additional penalties:
Up to ten (10) years in the state prison for using a gun
Up to twenty (20) years in the state prison for firing a gun
Up to twenty-five years to life in the state prison for firing a gun, causing physical injury or death
Gang-Related Enhancement Under PC 186.22
A gang-related attempted murder case will also attract some sentencing enhancement. According to PC 186.22, you will face an additional and consecutive prison time if the commission of the attempted murder case was for the benefit or in association with a street criminal group or gang.
If your attempted murder charge qualifies for the gang-related sentence enhancement under PC 186.22, you could be subject to up to fifteen (15) years to life in prison. Like any other sentencing enhancement, this penalty will be in addition and consecutive to the underlying standard penalties for an attempted murder charge conviction under PC 664.
A Strike Under the Three Strikes Law
Since an attempted murder charge qualifies as a violent felony under the three-strikes law, a conviction will count as a “strike” on your criminal record. If you have a past conviction for a severe or violent felony, a conviction for an attempted murder charge will attract a double sentence.
However, if it is your third strike or conviction for a violent felony offense, you could be subject to twenty-five (25) years to life in the state prison.
Since attempted murder is an aggravated felony, a conviction will also come with some immigration consequences, including deportation.
Loss of Gun Ownership Rights
According to PC 29800, convicted felons have no legal right to own, possess or buy firearms. Since attempted murder is chargeable and punishable as a felony, you will lose your gun ownership rights if you are guilty of PC 664 violation at trial.
A Criminal Record
A conviction for an attempted murder charge under PC 664 will also appear on your criminal record. That means your conviction for an attempted murder charge will be visible to the public, including your potential employers. If a potential employer knows you have a criminal history, he/she could be reluctant to hire you.
Fortunately, you could increase your chances of fighting the alleged attempted charge with an attorney in your corner during the prosecution process. Ensure the defense attorney you have in your corner is:
Reputable and credible
Qualified and experienced
Available and accessible
Friendly and courteous
Best Legal Defenses for an Attempted Murder Charge
You could convince the court to drop or reduce the alleged attempted murder charge with a dependable and aggressive defense attorney in your corner. Below are some of the most common and effective defenses that could work out in your favor for the best possible outcome on the alleged attempted murder charge:
You Did Not Have the Intent to Kill
An attempted murder charge is an intent-specific offense, meaning you will not be guilty of the crime if you did not have the intent to kill or murder the alleged targeted person. Your defense attorney could argue that you had the intent to maim or scare the alleged person for the best possible outcome.
If your defense attorney can raise a doubt about the prosecutor’s case against you, the judge could reduce the charge to a less severe offense like simple assault or mayhem.
You Were Defending Yourself (Self-Defense)
As you could beware, it is legal to use reasonable force whenever necessary to protect yourself or perhaps another individual from imminent harm or injury. Your defense attorney can argue that even if you did have a motive to kill the person, you did so in self-defense for a less severe charge or dismissal of the entire attempted murder case.
You are a Victim of a Mistaken Identity
Even lawmakers acknowledge that when a person attempts to murder another, but he/she does so in the dark, it is undoubtedly easy for the wrong individual to face charges for the crime. An experienced defense attorney will know how to argue that you are a victim of mistaken identity to counter the alleged attempted murder charge for the best possible outcome.
The Accusations Against You are False
Like most criminal cases, an attempted murder offense is ripe for false accusations. Your defense attorney will get to the bottom of your case and interview eyewitnesses to find the accuser’s motive to lie and impeach his/her credibility for the best possible outcome.
You Did Not Take a Direct Step to Kill the Person
Even if you did have a plan to kill the alleged targeted victim, you would not be guilty of attempted murder under PC 664 if you did not take a direct step to execute your mission.
You Are a Victim of Police Misconduct
Your defense attorney could also apply this argument as a defense for the alleged attempted murder offense. Below are examples of some of the acts that could count as police misconduct for a less severe charge or dismissal of the entire case:
Illegal search and seizure
Offenses Related to Attempted Murder Charge Under PC 664
Depending on your unique case’s facts, the prosecutor could file any of the following charges against you instead or along with the alleged attempted murder charge:
Shooting at an Occupied Car or Inhabited Dwelling
PC 246 is the law that makes it unlawful to shoot at an inhabited dwelling. Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle shows that you had the criminal intent to kill occupants. If the prosecutor’s evidence is insufficient to prove you are guilty of PC 664 violation, he/she could charge you with the offense of shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
Similarly, a drive-by shooting offense can qualify as attempted murder if no person dies. According to PC 26100, you commit a drive-by shooting offense when you maliciously fire a gun from your vehicle or allow occupants of your car to bring a gun. A conviction for PC 26100 violation will make you subject to the following potential penalties:
Up to three (3) years in the state prison
A fine amounting to up to $10,000
According to PC 206, you commit the offense of torture when you inflict a severe bodily injury on another individual with the intent to make him/her experience extreme or cruel pain. Some of the acts that could qualify as torture include:
Beating another person with a hockey stick because of an overdue debt
Burning another person with a lit cigarette or plastic until he/she opens his/her safe
Since torturers could have the intent to murder their victims in the long run, the prosecutor could file a torture charge against you along with an attempted murder offense.
Attempted Voluntary Manslaughter
PC 192 is the statute that defines the crime of voluntary manslaughter. According to PC 192, you commit the crime of voluntary manslaughter when you kill another person upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
The prosecutor could reduce the alleged attempted murder charge to attempted voluntary manslaughter if his/her evidence against you is insufficient to prove you guilty of PC 664 violation. A conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter will attract a maximum of five years and six months in the state prison.
Another common offense the prosecutor could file against you alongside the attempted murder charges is an aggravated battery charge. You commit the crime of aggravated battery when you touch or strike another person in an offensive or harmful manner, leading to bodily injury. The prosecutor could file this charge as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on your unique case’s facts.
A conviction for an aggravated battery charge as a felony will make you subject to the following penalties:
Up to four years in the state prison
A fine not exceeding $10,000
However, if the prosecutor files your case as a misdemeanor, a conviction will make you subject to the following potential penalties:
Detention in the county jail for up to one year
A maximum of $1,000 fine
Find a Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you are under investigation or charged with an attempted murder charge in Pasadena, attorneys at Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm are here for you. We invite you to call us at 626-628-0564 to schedule your first obligation-free consultation with our understanding and reliable defense attorneys.
Our attorneys have the necessary skills and experience to fight for a favorable outcome on the alleged attempted murder charge.