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Attempted murder refers to the attempt to kill another person with intent to do so. To be convicted of attempted murder, it must be shown that there was a clear intention to murder another and that an active step was taken towards that murder. It is considered attempted murder, however, because the step taken towards the murder was not successful.
The active step taken in attempted murder has to be more than just planning or preparation. It instead would be considered the next phase that would put that plan in action. For example, if a weapon or force of attack was used on someone but did not ultimately result in his or her death, or if a third party was paid to kill someone, it would be considered a deliberate step in an attempted murder. Again, there also must be specific intent to kill the victim and not just wound them.
According to the California Penal Code, attempted murder is a felony. The crime could be either first-degree or second-degree attempted murder. First-degree means that the attempt to murder was premeditated and deliberate. It is punishable by up to seven years to life in prison with the possibility of parole. If the act was carried out on a peace officer or other protected person in the line of duty, the defendant must serve a minimum of 15 years in prison in addition to the possibility of a life sentence.
Second-degree attempted murder means that the intent to murder was unplanned and attempted in the heat of the moment. It is punishable by five, seven or nine years in state prison. Both degrees can also carry penalties of fines and a strike under the California Three-Strikes Law.
An professional criminal lawyer can help to prove to a court that the defendant did not have any intention to kill or that the defendant did not take the first step towards the murder. If either case can be proven, attempted murder cannot be charged.
A criminal lawyer may also be able to get the defendant's charges significantly reduced if self-defense spawned the attempted murder, or if the defendant abandoned his/her plan's to murder before the first step towards action was taken. There are California self-defense laws that would allow the charges to be dropped completely if the defendant acted to save his or her own life. Similarly, the defendant could have been wrongfully accused, in which case a criminal lawyer will strongly fight for the defendant's rights and innocence.
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