Orange County, CA Criminal Defense Law Blog

Saturday, January 17, 2015

California Homicide Rates

How Common are Homicides in California?

According to statistics from the California Attorney General’s office, the rate of homicide, the unlawful killing of a person, has been going down in the state. Though that is good news for everyone, it still leaves potentially hundreds of people facing charges for this crime.

In 2013 1,745 homicides were reported. This is a 7.1% decrease from 2012 and a 27.1% decrease from the 2004 numbers. The 1,745 homicides indicate a rate of 4.6 homicides per 100,000 people in California. This is a decrease of 8% from the 5.0 rate in 2012 and a 31.3% decrease from the 6.7 rate in 2004. The rate reached a high of 7.0 in 2005. The homicide rate in 2013 is the lowest since 1964.

Men are the majority of homicide victims (82.1%) and the largest proportion of victims has also been consistently Hispanic (42.4%). As far as age, the largest percentage of victims is 18-29 but over half (56.4 %) of white victims were aged “40 and over.”  A friend or acquaintance killed approximately 46.9% percent of victims. Strangers were the next most common group (30.9%) and 16.5% of homicides were by a spouse, parent or child.  The street or sidewalk is the most common scene of a homicide (36.5%) and 25.5% percent of homicides were in the victim’s residence and 14% were in another person’s residence.

In California, homicide can be charged as murder or manslaughter. A murder conviction requires a showing of "malice aforethought" which is the defendant's intent or state of mind. A prosecutor would need to show the defendant had express (a deliberate attempt at murder) or implied (actions without care for another’s safety or with extreme recklessness) malice for a conviction.

There are two types of murder charges in California, first and second degree. First degree murder cases normally involve premeditation, deliberate planning and an intent to kill. State laws include special circumstances a prosecutor must show to charge someone with first degree murder. If none apply, a second degree murder charge can be pursued.

If you or a family member are in Orange County and have been charged with homicide, or are being investigated in a homicide case, it is critical you get legal help because many of those convicted of murder spend the rest of their lives in prison. Contact criminal defense attorney Mark Raymond McDonald by calling (888)686-7874 today.


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