Assault and Attempted Murder in San Diego
Bar fights, arguments, fights over women, road rage, and a variety of other
incidents fall into the general category of crimes of violence. Typically
in these assault cases the alleged perpetrator is known. The focus frequently
becomes what happened and why did it happen? Because of California’s
strike laws and society’s general intolerance for violence, the
consequences of a conviction can be very serious. This is even truer if
the injuries to the alleged victim are significant.
When an Assault Is Charged as Attempted Murder
Many times assault cases are charged as
attempted murder in San Diego or elsewhere in Southern California. This is usually an assault
with a more serious deadly weapon such as a knife or firearm. A lot of
times the attempted murder charge is used to provide plea bargain leverage
to the prosecution. Because of the consequences of an attempted murder
conviction, the defendant is more likely to accept a plea to assault with
a deadly weapon.
Did the assailant really intend to kill?
Proving the intent to kill, however, can be very difficult for the prosecutor.
Just because one person shoots or stabs another doesn’t mean the
intent was to cause death. Defeating the intent to kill element is sometimes
easy. Other times it requires expert analysis. Your lawyer may have to
retain a pathologist to show that the location, angle, and other circumstances
of the injury are less consistent with the intent to kill than with an
accident or the intent to wound.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges in San Diego
Felony assault cases are usually charged as
Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Assault with the Intent to Cause Great Bodily Injury. Many times these
are also overcharged and a
wrongful death attorney can help in these cases. The D.A. uses them as leverage to get a plea
bargain for concessions in sentencing.
A large percentage of these cases plea bargain because the identity is
clear and the circumstances aren’t strong enough for a self-defense
argument. In these cases negotiation and sentencing preparation become
the keys. Even if you can’t risk trial, you want to show the defendant’s
actions weren’t as bad as the prosecutor thinks. Any evidence showing
that the alleged victim has a record of violence or an aggressive personality
will help. It may not clear you completely, but it will humanize you and
will help mitigate your actions.
If possible, it is important to show that the defendant was acting out
of character when the incident happened. Everyone can understand someone
acting out violently under the influence of alcohol or in quick-developing
events under stress. A good psychological evaluation will help demonstrate
that the defendant’s acts were out of character and mitigated. Demonstrating
remorse can also be important. If the D.A. and the Court see that you
are terribly remorseful for your actions they will go easier on you, both
in what you pled to and to what you get for punishment at sentencing.
Taking an assault case to trial often ends up being a contest of credibility
between the defendant’s version and the accuser’s version.
Your skilled criminal defense lawyer will need to focus on the accuser’s
story and use all efforts to show that it is inconsistent with the truth.
Many times this requires a combination of the words of witnesses and expert
testimony based on body marks and other physical findings. Be prepared
to decide to take the stand. It will be difficult for a jury to know what
you were thinking without hearing it from your mouth. Taking the stand
is a major decision, however, and shouldn’t be considered without
the sound advice of your lawyer.
Don’t be depressed if some of the eyewitnesses are against you. If
they weren’t involved, they typically form an impression of who
is at fault without knowing the whole story. Also, they are surprised
when a fight happens and they may misunderstand what they think they saw.
A good expert on eyewitness testimony can explain to a jury how eyewitnesses
frequently get it wrong. Despite what people think, the eye is not a camera.
People frequently get very important facts wrong that happen right before
their eyes. Don’t risk your life and wait another second if you
have been charged with attempted murder or assault. You need an experienced
criminal defense attorney representing your rights.