Attempted Murder prosecution
A crime is “attempted” when you have the specific intent to complete the substantive crime and take a deliberate step toward completing it. As applied to murder, a prosecutor must prove two elements to convict you of attempted murder:
- You took a deliberate step toward killing another person; AND
- You specifically intended to kill that person.
Attempted murder is completed and committed as soon as you take that deliberate step. You do not need to actually kill the person. Moreover, if you take a deliberate step towards killing another and later decide not to go through with your actions, you can be found guilty of attempted murder.
Under Penal Code section 664, once the prosecutor proves the two elements listed above, he must then prove the degree of murder that he alleges you attempted.
Attempted Murder defenses
Most of the same defenses that apply to murder and Penal Code section 189 apply to attempted murder. So, if you did not intend to kill someone or acted out of self-defense, you cannot be convicted.
Just as with murder, certain defenses can mitigate attempted murder charges. Both the imperfect self-defense and heat of passion defense can reduce your charges from attempted murder to attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Abandonment is a defense specific to attempted crimes. If you freely and voluntarily abandon your plan to kill before taking a deliberate step toward killing another person, then you cannot be found guilty of attempted murder.
Attempted Murder punishment and sentencing
Under Penal Code section 664, attempted crimes normally carry half of the sentence that the substantive crime would carry, except for attempted homicide crimes. The sentence for attempted homicide varies depending on the degree of homicide that you attempt.
- Attempted first-degree murder: You face up to life in state prison with the possibility of parole. You will be eligible for parole after you serve 85% of the seven year minimum term in state prison to Life.
- Attempted second-degree murder: You face up to nine years in state prison if you are convicted of attempted second-degree murder.
- Attempted voluntary manslaughter: You face up to five and one-half years in state prison for a conviction of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Additionally, because attempted murder is a violent felony, you are subject to additional penalties such as a strike under the Three-Strikes Law, gun enhancements, and fines.