Episode from the podcastTrial Lawyer Confidential


Released Sunday, 12th January 2014
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I pull back the curtain on the laws relating to the LAW OF MURDER.
First degree murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought carried out in a willful, premeditated and deliberate manner. 2nd Degree murder lacks the willfulness, premeditation and deliberation but malice is implied by the conduct, the circumstances or the conscious disregard to human life.
Murder trials are often viewed by trial lawyers as the pinnacles of their career. If television shows and infotainment “news” programs are any indication, the general public is fascinated by these unique, often complicated and dramatic trials as well. In states where the death penalty is used, there are very specific circumstances (often called special circumstances) under which a murder is committed that allow the state to seek to impose the ultimate punishment. Some of these have to do with the actor himself, such as a repeat offender, others have to do with motive, as in murder for financial gain, murder that is racially motivated. Some have to do with the actions themselves being above and beyond what is necessary to kill a person, such as torture. And still others have to do with the identity of the victim, such as the killing of a police officer, an elected official, a witness, a juror or a judge.  Some states still have a catch-all circumstance that the murder was particularly heinous or horrendous.
There are also specified felonies that if a killing during the course of their commission, the murder is deemed first degree even if a killing was not the original intent of the perpetrators. In California, these include: murder by weapon of mass destruction, by an explosive device, murder with a weapon whose ammunition is designed to pierce metal or armor, poisoning, lying in wait (ambush) and torture. Other states will list different felonies but all will be crimes that in their commission evidence that violence and harm could result form their commission.
Quick Tip for keeping in check your perspective when dealing with situations that may be considered minor or less important than other situations and how refusing to “call it in” will make your presentation or relationship more compelling.


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