A man who crashed his car into an SUV in Southern California, killing the driver of that SUV, while fleeing a residential burglary, pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and burglary and was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison.

The men involved in the burglary were implicated in a residential burglary where a witness called 911 after seeing two of the three men involved kick down a door of a home while another waited in the getaway car.  When sheriff deputies spotted the getaway car, a police pursuit ensued and the car ultimately crashed into an innocent driver in an SUV.  The driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “how can this guy be charged, and convicted, of murder?  He never meant to kill anyone.”  Well, in California, we have the felony-murder rule which makes a defendant guilty of murder if he/she or a fellow co-conspirator kills a person while committing certain felonies, even if the killing was an accident.  Generally, someone is only guilty of murder if there intent to kill or someone acted with reckless disregard for human life.  The felony-murder rule allows for a murder charge even when there is no intent or reckless disregard.  The underlying felony must be one that is listed in California’s first-degree murder law (for first-degree felony-murder) or one that is “inherently dangerous” (for second-degree felony-murder).

As with all first-degree murder charges, first-degree felony-murder is punishable by 25 year to life in California state prison, life in state prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.

If you, a friend or family member is facing a charge of murder, felony evading, resisting arrest, fleeing, burglary, home invasion or any other criminal charge in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Opening lines of communication with the district attorney during the early stages of the case can oftentimes be beneficial for the client.  Additionally, there may be the need to conduct our own investigation and preserve any surveillance footage, recordings, witness statements or other items to be used at a later date.

These felonies are often charged in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building (CCB), Van Nuys Courthouse, Airport Courthouse, Pasadena Courthouse, San Fernando Courthouse, Long Beach Courthouse and other courts throughout Orange County and San Bernardino County.

California’s State Prisons look like they will not be able to meet the obligation, imposed by a panel of federal judges, to reduce the prison population by approximately 112,000 by June 2013 and could possibly face the prospect of inmate being released early.

In fact, the same federal three judge panel has given the state until this Friday to develop a system for identifying those inmates who are unlikely to reoffend and who would be good candidates for early release.

California’s Prison system has had since May 2011 to comply with a court order that said the prison overcrowding cannot exceed 137.5%. Meanwhile, the state of California intend to ask the court for a cap at 145%.

Now, you might be asking what does all this mean in practical terms? Well, the federal district court has determined that the prison overcrowding, and corresponding decline in health and well-being of inmates, has come too close to being a violation of the Constitution’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The court’s effort, through this order, means that many more non-violent, non-serious and lower-level prison inmates are likely to be eligible for earlier release dates.  This also means that many inmates who would normally serve their sentence in state prison will now serve their sentences in the Los Angeles County Jail system and face the early release dates that inmates their are currently experiencing.

If you have been charged with a felony and are facing prison time, it is important to hire an attorney who can negotiate a probationary and other non-custody resolutions to your charges.  With the County’s new “realignment” plan discussed above in effect, you or your family member needs to hire an experienced law office to ensure the best and most appropriate outcome is reached in the case.

If you have been arrested and need an attorney in the Beverly Hills courthouse, the Metropolitan courthouse or the Airport courthouse, contact attorney Ross Erlich at (323) 222-4529.


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