Two women, aged 27 and 26, were acquitted of second-degree murder but convicted of voluntary manslaughter and assault following the death of a 23-year-old Huntington Beach woman. According to a KTLA News report, they were found guilty by an Orange County jury in July and sentenced last week to six years in state prison.
During the trial, it was revealed that the victim threw the first punch elevating a verbal argument to a confrontation. The two women joined in and their actions were caught on film. The fight was described during the trial as mutual combat, but the two women were convicted because they fatally kicked the victim in the head. She died in January, three days after the melee.
There is a difference between voluntary manslaughter and second-degree murder. A murder conviction in California can result in a life sentence. Manslaughter, however, is punishable by a maximum of 11 years in prison. It is common in murder cases for the defense to pursue a reduction in the charge from murder to manslaughter.
While murder and voluntary manslaughter both involve the intentional killing of another, murder involves malice aforethought. It is manslaughter and not murder when someone is killed during a sudden quarrel or fight. It is a crime of passion that occurs after the defendant is provoked.
Other important legal charges that are often involved in violence cases include assault and battery. Assault is the willful attempt to commit a violent injury. Under California Penal Code 242, battery is the actual infliction of force or violence. Therefore, battery charges can be reduced to assault charges when no actual harm ensues. Both charges are serious, but a conviction for battery can result in much harsher punishments.
If you or a loved one is facing serious criminal charge in Orange County, including murder, manslaughter, assault or battery, do not rely in contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to build a solid defense and help you navigate the charges and the justice system.