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Oakland First Degree Murder Lawyer

Fighting California First Degree Murder Charges

At The Castillo Law Office, we understand that murder charges are serious. Murder charges carry heavy consequences and only an experienced attorney who has handled these types of cases can get you the result you need. Our Oakland murder lawyer, Ernesto Castillo has experience handling and winning some of the most serious homicide cases in Oakland and in the Bay Area. Contact Ernesto Castillo for a free consultation to find out how he can help you win your murder case.

What you should know about first degree murder: First-degree murder is the most serious criminal offense in California. The other serious homicide charges are second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

Facing first degree murder charges in California? Don't hesitate to reach out to The Castillo Law Office to gain skilled defense today.

What are the Penalties for First-Degree Murder in California?

The punishment for first-degree murder is 25 years to life in prison, or a death sentence (Pen. Code, §§ 187, 189, 190). Alameda County has the fourth largest amount of defendants sentenced to death in all of California counties. Alameda County is also the ninth largest county with death sentences in all of the United States.

Even if a case is not charged with the death penalty, a conviction for first degree murder could result in a sentence of life in prison. For example, gun use enhancements under Penal Code Section 12022.53 can increase a first-degree murder sentence to at least 50 years in prison before parole eligibility. If you are facing a murder charge, contact our firm to speak with an Oakland murder defense attorney who understands the serious nature of these charges and will fight for your innocence.

A first-degree murder conviction can result from many different scenarios: premeditation and deliberation, felony murder, torture, lying in wait, use of an explosive device, use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of metal penetrating ammunition, shooting a firearm from a vehicle, or use of poison. The most common first-degree murder charge is for premeditated and deliberate murder.

Premeditated and Deliberate First-Degree Murder

The district attorney has the burden of proving first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The first requirement for a premeditated and deliberate murder is that the person intended to kill the victim.

The next requirement is premeditation and deliberation:

  • 1) Premeditation - Premeditation means the person decided to kill before doing the act that caused the death
  • 2) Deliberation - Deliberation means that the person carefully weighed the considerations for and against the choice and, knowing the consequences, decided to kill. A decision to kill made rashly, impulsively, or without careful consideration is not deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, a cold, calculated decision to kill can be reached quickly.

The district attorney tries to prove premeditation and deliberation by presenting evidence that the defendant made preparations to kill: bringing a murder weapon to the scene, calling friends to help settle a score, or inviting the victim to an isolated place. The district attorney is less likely to be able to prove premeditated and deliberate murder when the defendant did not bring a weapon to the scene, something unforeseen happened that made the defendant act rashly, or the defendant accidently caused the death.

Defenses to a First-Degree Murder Charge

While there are many defenses to a first-degree murder charge - mistaken identity, self-defense, and insanity – an additional defense is that the district attorney does not have proof that the homicide was deliberate and premeditated.

If the jury does not find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder, the sentence will be lowered by 10 years to 15 years to life in prison. If none of the elements are met, the punishment will be even more reduced.

Contact Our Oakland Murder Attorney Today

Due to the high number of homicide cases in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, the district attorneys are skilled in prosecuting homicides.

Contact our firm today to speak with an Oakland murder lawyer who has experience handling high profile first-degree murder cases who will help you fight for your innocence of first-degree murder.

Hear it From A Few
Of Our Clients

  • I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.

    “Ernie Castillo was highly recommended to us. I researched and interviewed a few attorneys before making a decision of who we were going to select. It's so tough selecting when you're skeptical with the horror stories of attorney's not feeling the passion for their work but the money. After long conversations my husband and I decided to go with Ernie to represent our son in a serious case with multiple charges. We were not disappointed at all. Mr. Castillo expertise exceeded our expectations. His was thorough, he kept us up to date on the case, answered all our questions, returned our calls in a timely manner, he's truly a genuine and sincere person. Most of all his knowledge in handling the case was remarkable. I can't express thanks enough to Ernie for the spectacular job he did defending my son who was facing years in jail. He took a stressful situation and relieved it with a positive outcome. I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.”


  • I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.

    “Mr Castillo represented me on a criminal case in which I was falsely accused in 2012. He took over the case from a previous lawyer who was less aggressive and not actively pursing my defense. Mr Castillo is a confident, aggressive and very persistent lawyer. He kept my family and I up to date on the case and also returned our calls on time. Mr Castillo persuaded me not to take any deal and wanted take the case to trial because he was confident that he would win. With the Lord's guidance and Ernie's aggressiveness my case was dismissed. I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.”


  • I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.

    “A few years back, Ernie Castillo represented a family member of mine who was charged with a vehicular offense. Although minor compared to the high profile cases Ernie is accustomed to, Ernie took the case with the utmost professionalism and was able to reduce the charge so that my family member's record was not affected. I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.”