Ambrosio E. Rodriguez

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Television Meets Truth: Understanding the Real-World Impact of “Serial” Season 1

This is Part One of a Four Part Series Investigating the legal significance of the media’s most sensational crime dramas: Serial Seasons 1 & 2, Making a Murderer, and The Jinx

Adnan Syed, now age 35, is the focus of the world-renowned This American Life podcast, Serial: Season 1. At only 17, Syed was accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in 1999, and after decades of mistrials, several questionable police interviews, and no concrete evidence emerging physically connecting him to the murder, Syed remains behind bars.

This true story captivated an audience of millions; with police misconduct allegations, racial and religious undertones, and what appears to many to be a great injustice done to a young man, the story resonates with all of us for various reasons.

Adnan Syed’s story, while tragic, is not unlike many young offenders’ who are charged with homicide crimes today. Regardless of whether you believe in Syed’s guilt or innocence, Syed is one of thousands of incarcerated individuals that deserve the best representation possible.

If you or anyone you know has been accused of homicide in the State of California, hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will be critical to your future freedom and criminal record.

California Homicide Laws

Like most states, California law categorizes homicide by degrees and levels. First-degree, for example, is the “highest” level, meaning it is the most severe and carries the most significant punishment.

As for levels, homicide is the blanket term that covers both murder and manslaughter. First-degree murder, then, is the most serious homicide offense. A conviction of first-degree murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. If this is accompanied by a hate crime, carried out while on parole or probation, or if it meets a host of other requirements, the offender, if charged, may face capital murder charges or the death penalty.

Manslaughter, while still a very serious offense, carries less prison time than murder and may be a reasonable alternative to pleading guilty to a murder charge. With parole options, it may be possible to leave prison after several years, while a first-degree murder offense may land the offender in jail for life.

When you have been charged with a homicide crime in California, you have many legal rights afforded to you. The police must conduct their investigation within the bounds of the law and when they fail to do so, it may be possible to have certain charges dropped or lessened.

Prosecutors have a duty to act within the law, as well, and failure to turn over critical evidence or disclose information to a criminal defendant may result in a dismissal of charges. While homicide charges are the most serious an offender can face in California, there is a way to defend yourself in court through effective legal counsel to eliminate or significantly reduce your possible sentence for murder charges.

Los Angeles, California Criminal Homicide Defense Attorney

If you have been following Adnan Syed’s case at all, you probably know that he has recently been granted an appeal, even after all the time that has passed since his original conviction. Even when the worst case scenario happens and you have been convicted of a crime, there is hope for an appeal. Having effective counsel for your initial trial lessens the need for a costly appeal and ensures that your best defense is put up in court right away.

As a former prosecutor, Attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez of the Rodriguez Law Group knows how to handle all levels of homicide charges. Regardless of whether this is your first offense or if you have prior convictions, Attorney Rodriguez will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to ensure your legal rights are protected and that you utilize every defense possible to proclaim your innocence.


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