What is a depraved heart murder?

A charge of depraved heart murder can pose serious consequences for defendants in the state of California.

California outlines multiple levels of offenses that can involve the loss of life of an alleged victim. Common terms heard are murder, homicide or manslaughter. Sometimes modifiers such as involuntary are also used to describe a suspected crime. Each type of charge can have its own corresponding set of penalties.

These criminal charges are among the most serious of all criminal charges and can result in long-lasting consequences for defendants. Any person who is arrested on suspicion of murder or depraved heart murder should be aware of how these two types of charges differ.

Wide range of murder charges

A person can be accused of killing another person in a variety of situations including a car accident that ends up being fatal to at least one victim. Not all such acts are premeditated or cold-blooded in nature. As noted by the California penal code, standard murder charges do involve the premeditated death of another party.

Perhaps one of the lesser known types of murder charges is that of a depraved heart murder. Such a charge refers to the killing of another person with essentially no care or concern toward the person or the act at all. The alleged perpetrator is identified as being totally indifferent to the situation as noted in an article published by USA Today this past spring.

A recent example

In Maryland earlier this year, a group of Baltimore police came under scrutiny in the death of a black man. According to the USA Today, one of the officers was later charged with depraved heart murder in the case. He also was to face charges of manslaughter and assault. This decision was due to the fact that the officer is accused of activing without care for and with a high level of malice for the alleged victim.

Proving guilt in a depraved heart murder case

In addition to the delineation that a depraved heart murder suspect is said to have acted with no care compared to a person accused of murder, there is another unique aspect to these charges.

The path to proving a person guilty of a depraved heart murder is different than that of a regular murder. Time notes that in a depraved heart murder case, the prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant actually caused the death of the victim. Instead, prosecutors need only to prove that the defendant acted in such a way that could have resulted in that death.

What should defendants do?

Any person who is arrested for murder charges of any type in California deserves a proper defense. Contacting an attorney right away is the most important thing to do at this time.

Keywords: crime, murder, felony, arrest, penalties