Mental Disease or Defect in a Homicide Case

By: Wallin & Klarich

When a person causes an unlawful killing of another human being with “malice aforethought”, this is considered murder. “Malice aforethought” is when the defendant had the intent to kill, the intent to cause serious bodily harm, consciously disregarded human life or committed a felony and a person was killed as a direct result of that felony.

Thus, malice is implied when the defendant is subjectively aware that his or her conduct endangers the life of another and acts despite this awareness. However, to prove that the defendant was not subjectively aware, the defense can argue and introduce evidence of mental disease, defect, or disorder, or of voluntary intoxication to raise a reasonable doubt about whether the defendant acted with malice.

The prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant acted with malice in a murder case. Thus in order to create reasonable doubt, a defense attorney should have the defendant evaluated by an expert medical witness. Once evaluated, and a favorable result is found, a skilled California violent crime defense attorney will present the evidence at trial or at plea negotiations to help his or her client.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense law firm can greatly increase your chances of ensuring your freedom. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been helping people for over 30 years and know the benefits of asserting every defendant’s Constitutional rights.

Please feel free to contact Wallin & Klarich to discuss your case. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-280-6839 or go to our website at for more information.

Posted In: Criminal Defense