Just taking part in a crime that resulted in a death not reason for murder charge, state Supreme Court rules

December 18, 2020

California law formerly allowed murder charges against someone who did not kill anyone or intend to do so but took part in a crime — a street fight, for example — in which death was a “natural and probable consequence.”

But a law that took effect last year has changed that, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Defendants can still be convicted of the crimes they actually committed, like assault. But under the new law, SB1437, a defendant can no longer be convicted of second-degree murder “under a theory that the defendant aided and abetted a crime, the natural and probable consequence of which was murder,” the court said in a unanimous ruling.


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