Archives : 2010 : August
California has some of the strictest penalties for murder convictions. The California Penal Code 187 defines murder as the “unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought”. There are several different degrees of murder charges you could face in California. The most serious murder charge is a capital murder with special circumstances. You can also be convicted or first degree murder or second degree murder. California murder conviction penalties range from 15 years in a California state prison to life, life without parole for such crimes as hate crime murder or the death penalty for capital murder crimes with special circumstances.
Capital Murder with Special Circumstances Conviction
Capital murder with special circumstances is the most serious murder crime you can be convicted of in California. You must have killed someone either for financial gain, killed more than one victim, killed a law enforcement officer, firefighter, judge, prosecutor or an elected public official, killed a witness to prevent them from testifying in a case, committed a felony and killed someone which subjects you to the first degree felony murder rule, killed someone under the definition of a hate crime, killed someone in a drive by shooting or killed someone for the benefit of a street gang. You face stiff penalties ranging from 15 years to life in a California state prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
First Degree Murder
California first degree murder convictions involve the use of a destructive or explosive device that kills someone, waiting for a victim and then torturing them, killing them deliberately in a premeditated and willful manner, or killing them while committing a felony crime under the felony murder rule. Penalties for a first degree murder conviction range from 15 years to life or life without the possibility of parole in a California state prison.
Second Degree Murder
A California second degree murder conviction means you committed any murder which does not fall under the first degree murder or capital murder with special circumstances categories. Incidents such as alcohol or drug related killings are considered murder in the second degree because they are willful, but not premeditated and without malice. Penalties for a second degree murder conviction in California range from 15 years to a life sentence in a California state prison, to life without the possibility of parole if you served time previous for a murder conviction.
California murder penalties may be increased to 20 years to life if you use a weapon in a drive- by-shooting causing or intending serious injury to someone. Penalties may be increased to 25 to life for crimes involving a peace officer and life without the possibility of parole if you intended to kill the peace officer, caused great bodily harm or used a deadly weapon or firearm to kill the peace officer. You may be subject to paying fines up to $10,000 and paying the victim restitution. The California three strikes law requires a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years to life if you are convicted of three felony crimes.
The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco issued a ruling of 3-0 on Monday August 23, 2010, to uphold the 2008 lower court ruling of a second degree murder conviction of Marjorie Knoller, a San Francisco attorney, whose Presa Canario dogs, Bane and Hera, fatally mauled and killer her neighbor Diane Whipple in 2001, as she was attempting to enter her apartment. Whipple lived 50 ft. from where the dogs resided. Both dogs were subsequently euthanized. The First District Appeals Court found that Knoller’s conviction of second degree murder was a proper conviction.
The trial court jury found her guilty of second degree murder in 2002. The trial judge reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter. She was paroled initially after serving four years on the involuntary manslaughter conviction. Then in 2008, a lower court ruling reinstated her second degree murder conviction and sentenced her to 15 years to life in prison. Knoller was the person in control of the dogs and admitted to being there at the time the attack occurred. She is currently serving her 15 year to life prison sentence for her second degree murder conviction. She resigned from the California State Bar in January 2007.
Knoller’s husband, Robert Edward Noel, also an attorney, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous animal that killed a human being, which is considered a separate felony. Noel appealed his conviction and was sentenced to four years in prison. He served a portion of his time and was paroled on good behavior and performance of his work duties in prison. Noel was subsequently disbarred by the California State Bar. He is currently on parole and has no right to further appeals.
Murder is a very serious crime in California. If you are charged with a murder, you should immediately hire a California criminal defense attorney who is skilled and experienced at defending murder charges in California. The attorney can raise doubt in your case and argue defenses such as self-defense, mistaken identity, accidental killing, insanity or illegal search and seizure to get the crime dismissed or reduced.
Under Ohio Chapter 2905.01, you can be convicted of the felony crime of kidnapping in the first degree if you hold another person by force, threat or deception, or in the case of a minor under 13 years or a mentally incompetent person, remove them from the place where they are found or restrain their liberty, or hold a person for the purposes of ransom, as a shield or hostage, facilitate a felony crime or flight thereafter or terrorize or inflict serious physical harm or engage in sexual activity against the victim’s will. If a kidnapper releases the victim to a safe place and they are unharmed, then the kidnapping crime is considered a felony in the second degree in Ohio. You could face a sentence of indefinite prison with a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison for a first degree felony kidnapping in Ohio, and minimum of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison for a second degree felony kidnapping in Ohio.
You may also face lesser charges under Chapters 2905.02 for the crime of abduction, which is a third degree felony, if you remove someone by force or threat to another place where the person is found, restrain their liberty to create a risk of physical harm or hold them in involuntary servitude. For a third degree felony, you could face a prison term from one to five years. Under Chapter 2905.03, you could also be charged with the lesser crime of unlawful restraint, which is a misdemeanor of the third degree, if without privilege you commit a crime with sexual motivation by knowingly restraining the other person or restrain the person’s liberty. For a misdemeanor of the third degree conviction, you face not more than sixty days jail time.
A WEWS-TV weekend sport anchor, Terry Brooks, 32 of South Euclid, IL, was indicted on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 of nine counts including one count of kidnapping, four counts of rape, and four counts of attempted rape. Mr. Brooks is accused of allegedly raping a 21 year woman sometime between September 1, 2009 and September 14, 2009, after going to Jack’s Sports Bar in South Euclid. Prosecutors said the victim and the defendant knew each other. According to prosecutors in the case, Mr. Brooks took the woman to his residence and raped her and then dropped her back off at the Sports Bar to get her car. The crime was not reported until January 2010. The victim said that she knew Brooks for awhile, but did not consent to having sexual intercourse with him. The South Euclid initially opened an investigation. Brooks claims he is innocent of the charges. He is on a leave of absence from the news station until the investigation is over. Brooks’ arraignment is scheduled for August 18, 2010.
If you are arrested in Ohio and charged with kidnapping and/or rape, these are very serious crimes. It is recommended that you hire an Ohio criminal defense attorney to defend you. The attorney may be able to get the charges reduced to lesser charges such as abduction or unlawful restraint or get the charges dismissed by claiming that the victim consented to both leaving with the defendant and that the sex was consensual or get the charges dismissed based upon mistaken identity or insufficient evidence.
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