There are many people in California who would likely admit that they have made mistakes in their lives. Knowing this, they may realize that there are consequences for their actions. While some people may be able to accept this, it could be more difficult to accept a punishment for a crime that they did not commit. However, a recently passed law may prevent some people from facing extreme penalties in certain murder cases.
Under the current felony murder law, anyone who is involved in a felony, such as a robbery, that results in a homicide is criminally responsible. This is regardless of whether the person is actually involved in the killing. A law proposed by Sen. Nancy Skinner and recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will change this.
Under the new law, a suspect cannot be charged with first-degree murder unless that person solicited the murder, aided in a way that demonstrated “reckless indifference to human life” or was the actual killer. This bill, according to Sen. Skinner, will reserve the most severe penalties to those who were directly involved in the death. The only exception is when the case involves the death of a police officer. Under the new law, those previously sentenced under the felony murder law can petition the court for a new sentence.
Sen. Skinner pointed to a recent survey shows that 72 percent of women who are serving a life sentence did not actually commit the homicide of which they were convicted. Though some California prosecutors opposed the new law, it will likely have an impact on many people. With the changes, it is more likely that those people who are convicted of first-degree murder actually committed the crime of which they were convicted. Regardless of the new law, many people find themselves accused of crimes they did not commit; as such, having an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting on their behalf can be beneficial.