A 28-year-old Los Angeles father has been arrested for his role in the sudden death of his infant daughter. According to reports, police received a call about a 6-month-old child who was not breathing. When they arrived at the scene, attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. The girl’s father was taken into custody on suspicion of murder and assault against a child resulting in death.
Crimes involving children, especially those that inflict bodily harm or death, are taken very seriously by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Parents, like the father involved in this case, can be sentenced to years in prison for harming their children.
Murder and Assault Against a Child Causing Death
The father in this case has been charged with murder and assault against a child causing death. How are these two charges different? Why would the state decide to charge him with both crimes?
Murder, as defined in Penal Code 187 PC, is the unlawful killing of another person. The defendant’s intent dictates whether they will be charged with first-degree murder or second-degree murder. First-degree murder involves an unlawful killing that’s premeditated. Second-degree murder involves an unlawful killing that’s done in the heat of the moment. In other words, the difference between first and second-degree murder is whether or not the killing was planned ahead of time.
Assault Against a Child Causing Great Bodily Injury or Death
When a child suffers great bodily injury or dies, the person who inflicted that harm or allowed them to suffer can face charges for the abandonment and neglect of children. Under Penal Code 273a PC, it’s a crime for “any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death” to willfully cause or inflict suffering on a child.
Why Multiple Charges?
Why would prosecutors decide to charge the infant’s father with murder and assault against a child? There are a few possible reasons.
Increase the Odds of a Conviction: Prosecutors are more likely to get a conviction when they stack multiple charges against a defendant. If they’re unable to prove murder, they may still have enough to prove that the father used excessive force and caused his child’s death.
Enhanced Punishment: Causing the death of a child is a serious crime. The state may pursue multiple charges so that multiple punishments can be applied to a conviction.
Uncertainty: The state may also be unclear about the father’s motive and intent. Rather than charging one crime at a time, the state can charge any crime that it reasonably believes a defendant has committed. If they come to learn that the child’s death was not premeditated, they can drop the murder charges but continue with the others. If they didn’t charge multiple crimes at once, they’d have to start the process all over again.
Defending Charges of Murder and Assault Against a Child
The Los Angeles father has the opportunity and right to defend himself against all criminal charges. His arguments will be strongest if he hires an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to handle his case. His attorney will investigate his alleged crime and determine the best defense(s) for his particular situation. The defense arguments should help to justify, explain, or excuse his alleged behavior. Defense arguments can be made to prove a defendant’s innocence or to limit the potential consequences of a conviction.