New law could help hundreds obtain their release

Individuals who are serving time for murder convictions in California may be eligible for release after a change to state law. The change went into effect on Jan. 1, and it says that only killers can be convicted of murder. Previously, those who were indirectly related to such a crime could be charged as if he or she actually killed the victim.

The first person who was ordered released because of the new law had spent the last 15 years in prison. While robbing a drug dealer, his partner stabbed the dealer to death. The accomplice in the incident was convicted of murder and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. It is believed that up to 800 other people could be impacted by the new statute.

It is important to know that just because a person is charged with a crime does not mean that he or she is guilty. Instead, a prosecutor will need to prove at trial that a person's actions met the elements needed for a conviction on the charge. An attorney may be able to help a person defend against allegations that he or she committed violent crimes such as murder.

An attorney may be able to argue that a defendant killed another person in self-defense or to protect another person. It may also be shown that a defendant had no intention of causing bodily harm or death to another person. By casting doubt on evidence used at a trial, it may be possible to obtain a plea deal or get the case thrown out entirely. A plea deal may allow an individual to avoid spending any time in jail or prison.

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