Murder is of the first degree when it is willful, deliberate and premeditated. (§ 189). Premeditation and deliberation require more than a showing of intent to kill. An intentional killing is premeditated and deliberate if it is considered beforehand and occurred as the result of preexisting thought and reflection, rather than as the product of an unconsidered or rash impulse.

Under California law, the term “deliberation” refers to careful weighing of considerations in forming a course of action. The term “premeditation” is defined to mean “thought over in advance.”

To prove a killing was premeditated and deliberate, however, it is not necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act. In other words, the process of premeditation and deliberation does not require any extended period of time.

The courts have found that the true test is not the duration of time as much as it is the extent of the reflection. In other words, “thoughts may follow each other with great rapidity and cold, calculated judgment may be arrived at quickly.” (People v. Houston (2012) 54 Cal.4th 1186, 1216.)

A reviewing court typically considers three categories of evidence when determining whether a finding of premeditation and deliberation is adequately supported:

  • planning activity
  • motive
  • manner of killing.

(People v. Sandoval (2015) 62 Cal.4th 394, 424-425.) The three factors are not all required and are not exclusive, but are a framework to guide the assessment of the evidence. Id. Where there is evidence of all three factors, a first degree murder verdict is typically sustained. Id.

Attorney for Crimes of Murder in Ventura County, CA

Jay Leiderman fights serious violent felony charges in Ventura County, CA, and the surrounding areas in Southern California. Contact Jay Leiderman to discuss the charges pending against you, the potential penalties, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

Call (805) 654-0200 today for a free initial consultation.

Additional Resources

Murder Prosecutions in Ventura County – Visit the website of the District Attorney’s Office in Ventura County, CA, to learn more about murders and cold-case homicide cases being investigated by the Major Crimes Unit.