California Penal Code 189

California Penal Code 189 is subdivided into several categories including first degree murder, second degree murder and manslaughter. Murder is defined as the illegal killing of another, sometimes premeditated, in other instances it’s accidental.


In felony-murder clauses however, if a murder transpires during the course of a felony, the case will be prosecuted as felony first-degree murder, even if there was no malice aforethought involved.


Find a complete guide about Felony Murder in California through the expertise of our murder defense attorneys. Read about:


1. What Crimes Relate to Felony First-Degree Murder?

2. Penalties for Felony First-Degree Murder

3. What’s The Difference between First and Second-Degree Felony Murder?

4. What’s The Difference between Second Degree Felony Murder and Involuntary

5. Top Defenses for This Crime


What’s Automatically Classified as Felony First-Degree Murder?


In the even that someone is killed as a result of one of the crimes below, the offender is subject to first-degree murder charges:


  • Arson, Robbery, Carjacking, Burglary, Kidnapping, Mayhem, Torture, Train Wrecking, Lewd Acts with a Minor, Rape, Sodomy, Oral Copulation and other forms of sex crimes.


Elements of the Crime


Penal Code 189 observes that if the above crimes were not completed and someone was killed during their execution, so long as there was intent the offender can still be charged with felony murder.


Penalties for Felony First-Degree Murder in California


  • 25 Years to Life Imprisonment


What’s The Difference between First and Second-Degree Felony Murder?


Though first-degree felony murders have a preset list of crimes that qualify this charge, second-degree felony murders stipulate that if a murder is committed during the course of crimes that threaten human life, second-degree charges would subsequently apply.


A few examples of these crimes that are characteristically perilous include selling or transporting drugs, false imprisonment, carrying an unlicensed weapon and more.


Penalties for Felony Second Degree Murder in California


  • 15 Years to Life Imprisonment


Second-Degree Felony Murder and Involuntary Manslaughter


The difference between the above charge and Involuntary Manslaughter include:


  • The crime committed was not a felony
  • The crime is not regarded as a perilous crime


More Information Regarding California Misdemeanor Hit and Run


Refer to California’s Legislative Information for California Penal Code 189 which reads:


“(All murder which is perpetrated by means of a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, knowing use of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor, poison, lying in wait, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which is committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, carjacking, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, or any act punishable under Section 206, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, or any murder which is perpetrated by means of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, intentionally at another person outside of the vehicle with the intent to inflict death, is murder of the first degree. All other kinds of murders are of the second degree.


As used in this section, “destructive device” means any destructive device as defined in Section 16460, and “explosive” means any explosive as defined in Section 12000 of the Health and Safety Code.


As used in this section, “weapon of mass destruction” means any item defined in Section 11417.


To prove the killing was “deliberate and premeditated,” it shall not be necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act”


How to Fight Felony-Murder Charges in California


Felony-Murder charges are quite complex, however an experienced criminal defense attorney can help to clear any discrepancies in murder trials. MacGregor and Collins has over 30 years of criminal defense experience for challenging penal code charges that involve murder. Call us today at (888) 250-2865.

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