June 10, 2022 By Wallin & Klarich

In People v. Murphy, the California Court of Appeal considered whether there was sufficient evidence to find implied malice in a vehicular homicide case, where the defendant was smoking marijuana and then drove his car 88 mph in a residential area. 

The defendant, Murphy, was smoking marijuana in his vehicle when getting an oil change. On his way home, he ran through a red light at an intersection in a residential neighborhood at 88 mph and hit another vehicle, killing all three passengers. A jury convicted Murphy of three counts of second-degree murder. Murphy appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove implied malice. Second-degree murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being during an unjustified risk that is done without deliberation or premeditation, but with implied malice. Implied malice is when a person charged with a crime showed a reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk of human life and showed an “abandoned and malignant heart.” In other words, they knew what they were doing was dangerous and could cause harm to others, but proceeded with the dangerous act anyway. 

When examining convictions for murder revolving DUI cases, courts generally look at the blood alcohol content of the driver, knowledge of the hazards of driving while intoxicated, and highly dangerous driving. In Murphy’s case, the court found sufficient evidence from which the jury could reasonably find that Murphy was impaired by marijuana before the accident. The jury also was able to find that Murphy had intent to drive under the influence because he was simply getting an oil change, knowing that he would presume driving afterwards. The court also found that the speed Murphy was going in a residential area was reckless, and enough to show that he was aware of the danger of driving that speed while under the influence of drugs. They backed up this theory by citing his history of speeding tickets, where he received multiple warnings to affirm that he had advised of the dangers. For these reasons, the court found that there was sufficient evidence to prove implied malice and therefore enough to convict him of three counts of second-degree murder. 

Contact An Experienced Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Lawyer 

A conviction for second-degree murder can lead to many years behind bars and in some cases, a life sentence. If you or a loved one are being charged with second-degree murder, or any other type of murder charge, it is critical to hire a lawyer who has experience handling the pressure a murder case carries and can back it up with a history of success. Wallin & Klarich has been defending those accused of murder for over 40 years and have helped hundreds of our clients leave the courtroom without those murder charges. We know what the prosecution has to prove and will immediately start building a defense when you call. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you who can aggressively defend you. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, give us a call and we will do all we can to help you win your case. 

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

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