Attempted Murder Charges. Can Prosecutors Prove an Intent to Kill? :: Temecula, Murrieta and Riverside Criminal Attorney
Attempted murder in violation of Penal Code 664/187, takes place under a wide variety of circumstances, ranging from gang shootings to bar fights to situations where someone hires a hit man.
If you're charged with this crime in California, you could face years-long prison sentences, including life in prison if your actions were premeditated. To convict you of attempted murder, prosecutors will need to show that you not only took steps towards killing someone, but that you intended for them to die.
In regards to the second point - how would prosecutors prove intent to kill?
This isn't always straightforward. For example, maybe you lashed out at another person without intending to kill them; maybe you meant to injure them, but without causing their death. This could be the case even if you were wielding a potentially deadly weapon, such as a knife.
You might also have wanted to only scare or threaten the victim (such as by firing a gun in their general direction), but your actions got misinterpreted as an attempt at murder.
(Threatening people or intending to cause them injury can also lead to criminal charges, though generally with less severe penalties than attempted murder.)
One important point to keep in mind is that “intent to kill” doesn't have to apply to a specific individual. For example, if you fire a gun into a crowd of people, you may not have any specific victim in mind, but you could still face attempted murder charges. Prosecutors have to show that you intended to kill someone (anyone or multiple people) from that crowd. A recent example involves several young adults and juveniles who are now facing criminal charges, including attempted murder, for allegedly firing shots at party-goers.
In trying to show intent, prosecutors will look at a number of factors, including the following:
- Whether you made any threats or plans specifically involving murder.
- How easily your actions could have resulted in someone's death (for example, slashing someone on the arm vs. stabbing them repeatedly in the chest).
- Your choice of weapon; for example, while punching someone in the face could in some circumstances result in death, the use of a gun increases the chances of the victim dying.
It's critical that you contact an experienced and dedicated attorney to fight attempted murder charges. If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Menifee, Hemet, Perris, Banning, Corona or Riverside areas, reach out to us for powerful legal representation. We can help!