Two years ago, a 45-year-old woman died when she reportedly fell down a flight of stairs at her Southern California home. Friends and family members called her healthy and strong. They were shocked that she could sustain fatal injuries in a fall. Their suspicions may have been warranted. Her husband, a respected fertility doctor in the area, was recently arrested for his role in her untimely death.
Police have not released any information about why they suspect that Eric Scott Sills, 54, killed his wife. However, there was never a reasonable explanation for she died. Experts believe that new evidence suggests that Sills’ death was not an accident, after all.
No Statute of Limitations in California Murder Cases
Generally speaking, the state has a limited amount of time to charge you with a crime. This is because California law imposes a statute of limitations on most criminal charges. The statute of limitations for a crime begins once the illegal act has been discovered. For example, if you’re accused of committing felony burglary, the state has to file criminal charges within 3 years. If it doesn’t, it loses the right to prosecute that crime.
Statutes of limitations are important because they:
- Promote a timely pursuit of justice
- Ensure cases are tried using the best and most reliable evidence, and
- Safeguard the rights of criminal defendants.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. The state can have unlimited time to investigate, charge, and prosecute crimes that are considered to be particularly heinous. No statute of limitations apply to:
- Crimes punishable by death
- Crimes punishable by life in prison, and
- Certain embezzlement offenses.
As a result, the state has an unlimited amount of time to prosecute offenses such as murder and rape. Why? It’s believed that the interests of justice in prosecuting these crimes outweigh the risks and potential harm to defendants.
Murder Charges in Los Angeles
Murder, as defined in Penal Code 187 PC, is the “unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.” In simpler terms, a murder occurs when you do something that has a high probability of causing another person’s death. In California, the crime of murder is classified as either first-degree or second-degree.
First-degree murder is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit. You can be charged with first-degree murder if:
- The killing is willful, deliberate, and premeditated
- The act is committed using an explosive, weapon of mass destruction, armor penetrating ammunition
- You kill another person while lying in wait
- Another person’s death occurred while you are committing another felony.
All other murders are classified as crimes of the second degree. This typically includes crimes committed in the “heat of the moment” or because of gross recklessness.
Murder is punishable by no less than 15 years in prison. Crimes of the first degree carry a mandatory twenty-five years to life in prison. Aggravating factors will extend the length of time a defendant spends behind bars.
Defending Murder Charges in California
Eric Scott Sills has been accused of murdering his wife. A conviction will change his life forever. However, he has the opportunity to defend himself before he can be put away. Hiring an attorney to lead his defense will significantly help his chances of securing the best possible outcome in his case. An experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney will come through every detail of his alleged crime and determine the best strategies for his defense.
Legal defense is that can be offered in a murder case include:
- False accusations
- Coerced confessions
- Accident, and
- Lack of required intent.
Anyone charged with a crime, including murder, can also assert constitutional defenses. This includes assertions that evidence was obtained illegally or that an arrest was unlawful. The state cannot benefit from violations of any person’s constitutionally protected rights.