Fatal Shooting Suspect may Face Marijuana, but not Murder, Charges
A California man who reportedly shot and killed a burglary inside his home is not likely to face homicide charges, given that the facts of the case appear to support a justifiable homicide.
He may, however, face marijuana trafficking charges if he's unable to prove that the plants found growing in two of his bedrooms were not for legal, medicinal use under state law. Even then, he could potentially face federal marijuana charges, as the drug is still not legal under federal law.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that there are very few justifiable excuses for homicide - but they do exist. What does happen much more frequently is that police are investigating allegations of one crime when evidence of other potential criminal activity turns up. Depending on the facts and circumstances, your defense attorney may be able to win a motion to suppress evidence -- this is particularly true if you can beat the initial charges.
California Penal Code 187(a) defines homicide as the unlawful killing of a human or a fetus with malice aforethought. However, even if there is no planning, you can still be charged with second-degree homicide, which requires no premeditation on the part of the defendant.
The most common type of justifiable homicide is self defense or the defense of others. Under this statute, you must prove that you or someone else were in imminent danger of being killed, suffering great bodily injury or of being raped, robbed or the victim of some other forcible and serious crime.
When someone burglarizes your home, particularly if you do not know them, an argument can be made that you were in fear that you were in imminent danger and needed to protect yourself.
In this case, the homeowner, who has not been identified by police for safety reasons, was reportedly inside his home when a 21-year-old male attempted to break in. The homeowner reportedly shot the man in the stomach. The attempted burglary then jumped over a fence climbed up onto the neighbor's porch. The neighbor called 911 and attempted to save him, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
As part of their investigation, police declared the homeowner's residence a crime scene, and conducted a thorough search of the inside. There, they discovered more than 100 marijuana plants located in two bedrooms.
Those plants were seized as evidence in the homicide, though police have said they are working to determine whether the yield was legal under state and local statutes.
It's not clear whether the men knew each other or whether the plants were the intended target of the attempted burglary.
Research from state officials indicates that when police officers committed a justifiable homicide, 96 percent of those killed were men, the other 4 percent were women. In justifiable homicides committed by private citizens, all of those killed were men.
In cases involving civilians, 42 percent of justifiable homicides occurred at the shooter's residence, 13 percent occurred at another residence, 15 percent happened on a sidewalk or street and 24 percent happened at a commercial establishment.
In 63 percent of cases, the person was killed in commission of a felony and in 36 percent of cases, the person killed had attacked the shooter.
Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 for felony criminal defense in Orange County.