We’ve all gotten into disagreements with others. While most of these disputes end with nothing more than an exchanging of words, others turn physical. When a fight or some other type of dispute breaks out, you might find yourself at the receiving end of criminal charges. When the altercation results in death, a violent crime conviction can threaten you with prison time that strips your freedom for years, or even decades, to come, not to mention excessive fines and a mark on your record that can have a resounding impact on your life.

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot on the line when facing murder charges, which is why you need to be prepared to aggressively defend yourself. To start, you need to know the law.

Under California law, murder occurs when an individual is unlawfully killed with malice aforethought. The law goes a bit further to attempt to clarify what, exactly, constitutes murder. For example, the statute defines “malice.” Under the law, malice exists when there is a deliberate intent to kill another human being. In other words, in order to obtain a murder conviction, the prosecution typically must prove that the accused individual intended to unlawfully take a life.

Yet, there are ways to defend against murder charges. For example, you might try to argue that the killing was unintentional, which would probably still result in a conviction, just on a lesser charge. Another way to protect yourself against these kinds of charges is to claim self-defense. Under the law, you are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself from physical harm. Of course, you can always present evidence that you are not  at all responsible for the killing in question..

The best way to defend yourself against violent crime charges is dependent upon the facts at hand. Therefore, you need to carefully analyze your unique set of circumstances with a keen eye on what the prosecution can prove and what they can’t. Then, in light of the prosecution’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the evidence you have in support of your side of the story, you can develop a legal strategy that suits your needs.