The unique nature of depraved heart murder

A person can be charged with depraved heart murder when no intention of death was ever present.

California residents, like their counterparts around the nation, have been hearing a lot about depraved heart murder charges since this spring. This is a type of murder charge that is not commonly utilized and is, therefore, not well understood.

As with any charge for murder or even manslaughter, the criminal penalties for a depraved heart murder conviction are serious. For this reason, people who may be faced with such an allegation should understand what it means as it is quite different than a standard murder charge.

No intention to kill

CBS News explains that standard murder and depraved heart murder charges differ in a very specific way. In the former, a defendant is accused of trying to kill another person. In the latter, this is not the case. The intended death of another person is not what a depraved heart murder charge is about.

Instead, a depraved heart murder charge alleges that a person took actions that could result in death accompanied by a complete lack of concern or respect for the humanity of the other person.

The California penal code outlines that premeditation is not necessary to be found in a depraved heart murder case. A conviction for depraved heart murder can send a person to prison for as long as 30 years.

The path to conviction

According to Time, the standards by which a person can be found guilty of a depraved heart murder differ from those used to determine guilt in a regular murder case. Prosecution teams need only to prove that a person took actions that may have resulted in the death noted in a case in order for a guilty verdict to be returned.

A current case getting national attention

Since the death this spring of a man in Baltimore arrested by six police officers, depraved heart murder has garnered national attention. Of the six officers, one man has been charged with second degree depraved heart murder. Three others are charged with manslaughter.

The accusations indicate that the arrested man had pled for medical help but that the officers ignored his requests. It is the ignoring of these requests that the prosecution alleges led to the man's death.

The New York Times reported that a circuit court judge in Baltimore recently denied the defense team's request to move the trials to another jurisdiction. If juries cannot be obtained, the decision can be changed.

Important information for all defendants

Anyone in California accused of murder or other related serious charges deserves a thorough defense. Contacting an experienced attorney promptly is recommended at this time.