PC 187 (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
PC 187 is California’s murder law. This is the beginning of a section of the legal code that applies to all forms of murder, and is often applied to acts that we would not think of as “murder” in the traditional sense. This includes lives lost due to an accident involving DUI.
It’s important to understand that most DUI deaths are not prosecuted as murder. Usually they are prosecuted as gross vehicular manslaughter DUI. The difference is that manslaughter implies you acted with negligence, not malice—you were careless. Murder implies you acted with malice, that is, a willingness to harm others.
That doesn’t mean you wanted to kill someone, even in the eyes of the law. The next section of the murder code goes on to say, “Such malice may be express or implied.” When malice is implied, it means you clearly knew how much danger you were putting others in, and did it anyway.
In California, this kind of implied malice constitutes second-degree murder. If you have been charged with PC 187 in connection with a DUI incident, this is the kind of murder charge you face.
Defending against a DUI Murder Charge
One of the reasons DUI deaths are not usually charged as murder is that it’s very hard to prove malicious intent. By definition, killing someone in a car accident is not an intentional act, and calling it murder is a stretch.
Potential defenses against a DUI murder charge include:
- It was an accident. You did not act out of malice.
- You were not the one driving.
- The evidence against you was obtained through illegal search and seizure.
- Your “confession” or incriminating statements were gathered without following your Miranda rights
You can read more about DUI murder charges here: What if my DUI involved someone’s death?
The penalty for second degree DUI murder is generally 15 years to life in state prison. It is the most serious of all DUI charges. If you have been charged with PC 187, you need to speak to a top DUI lawyer immediately.
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