By Robin Sandoval
On Friday, January 10, Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to a call in Canyon Country regarding a possible stabbing. Upon arriving at the scene, deputies discovered a man lying on the ground with what was described as “multiple stab wounds to the upper torso.” Following a short analysis, unfortunately, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Currently, investigators are under the impression that the murder may be gang related.
The act/crime of murder falls under California Penal Code 187 (a) PC and is described as: “the unlawful killing of a person or fetus with malice aforethought.” The “unlawful killing” part is pretty straightforward; it means that the killing cannot be viewed as lawful (as with certain self-defense cases and justifiable homicides).
“Malice aforethought,” though, might require a little more explanation. “Malice aforethought” doesn’t necessarily mean that there was any ill will, anger, or hate directed at the victim at the time of the crime. What it means is that if a person acts in such a way that is negligent, reckless, or disregarding of human life, and that act has a high probability that it could result in the death of the victim, then the perpetrator of the crime acted with “malice aforethought.”
According to California law, there are three different ways in which an individual can be convicted of murder:
By committing the murder using an explosive device or ammunition designed to penetrate metal armor, using poison, or by lying in wait (for the victim) or by using torture
By killing someone in a way that is: premeditated, deliberate or willful
By committing a felony that leads to the death of another individual. The death must be directly related to the commission of the felony
The criteria above relate to charges of first-degree murder. If the circumstances of the crime are different, then an individual can possibly be charged with second-degree murder instead. The difference between first and second-degree murder is that murder in the second-degree is not deliberate and premeditated. The third and final murder charge is known as capital murder. Capital murder falls under all the criteria of first-degree murder but includes “special circumstances.”
Depending on which of the three possible murder charges an individual is convicted of, the potential sentence varies widely.
First-degree murder charges are pretty straightforward and carry a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
Second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Those convicted of capital murder face either life in prison without the possibility of parole, and possibly execution
In the Canyon Country case, if the crime is indeed proven to be gang-related, there could be an additional sentence enhancement. If the prosecutor can prove that the crime was committed at the direction of, in benefit of, or affiliated with a street gang, an additional minimum sentence of 15 years to life could be added to whatever sentence the convicted offender(s) receive.
Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.scvbailbonds.com or call 661-299-2245.