Few felonies are more serious than first-degree murder, which is punishable by death or life in prison in California. The emotional impact of being charged with such a serious crime can overwhelm many. Fortunately, several effective defenses ensure those falsely accused stand a very good chance of beating the charges. The following are some of the more commonly used ones.

Self-defense and accidental death

A defense that is based on self-defense and that has witnesses or other corroborating evidence often will beat a murder charge. Likewise, an accidental death is not a crime and makes for an effective defense when the deceased died via some accidental means. A lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter often takes the place of a murder charge when the situation warrants it, but overcharging a defendant could make it easier to put up an effective defense and win the case.

Defending others against great bodily harm

When someone is in a position of obvious danger, coming to that person’s aid is allowed. That is especially true when an aggressor is threatening to kill or otherwise seriously injure the person. An elderly woman threatened with death during a robbery would be an obvious example in which someone could come to her defense and use lethal means if needed to protect her.

Other matters

Sometimes, a person winds up killing another due to circumstances caused by mental health issues and does not understand the consequences of his or her actions. In such cases, an insanity defense could overcome a first-degree murder charge. No matter the situation, an experienced California criminal defense attorney is a great asset when facing violent crime charges.