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       According to the California Law Enforcement Agency Uniform Crime Reports, there were 191,000 violent crimes committed in the state of California in 2007. Violent crimes can range from homicides to rapes to assaults to robberies.

What is Homicide?

       Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. In ancient times, the death must have resulted within a year and a day from the time of the at which caused the death. In California, the rule is modified to be three years and a day.

Justifiable Homicide

       There are two types of "innocent" homicide: justifiable and excusable. Homicide is considered justifiable if it is either required or permitted by law. A required homicide would be the killing of the enemy soldier on the field of combat during wartime. Another example would be the court ordered execution of a state prisoner pursuant to a sentence of death. Other instances of a justifiable homicide would be killings which are required in arrested a felon, self-defense against an attacker threatening one's life and prevention of certain violent crimes such as rape or robbery.

Excusable Homicide

       Excusable homicides are deaths that result from accidents where there is no criminal negligence. When a child fires a loaded firearm killing someone, that homicide is called excusable due to the age of the child.

Killing of an Unborn Child

       Under Common Law, the killing of an unborn child was not homicide. This is still true in most states. California has amended its rule to read: "Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus, with malice aforethought …" Penal Code §187. However, interestingly, the manslaughter statute has not been amended to include a fetus.

Suicide

       It is important to note that the killing must be "by another human being." That means that suicide does not qualify as a homicide. But, shortening the life of one suffering from an incurable disease or other terminal illness, no matter how short the remaining expectation of life, still qualifies as homicide.

Sexual Violent Predator

       Separate from these commonly viewed violent crimes, there is a special category of other "violent" crimes. Certain sexual offenses against children are statutorily defined as being "violent" even though there is no violence involved. The SVP (Sexual Violent Predator) laws under Welfare & Institution Code §6600 et seq., define any crime committed against a child under the age of 14 that involves substantial sexual contact, to be a crime of violence, even if there is no actual violence. The perpetrator will thereafter be labeled a Violent Predator.

- Written by , Attorney at Law

 

 

 

 



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