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California Penal Code Section 195 PC - Excusable Or Accidental Homicide


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerUnder California Penal Code §195 PC, there are certain circumstances in which excusable homicide may be applicable when someone is killed accidentally. It is important to distinguish excusable homicide from justifiable homicide, which involves intentionally killing someone for a justifiable reason. Excusable homicide applies in situations where:

  • The homicide occurs in the heat of passion: If a person experiences an overwhelmingly intense emotional reaction and acts unreasonably or irrationally, resulting in a killing.
  • The homicide is accidental: Accidental homicide occurs when the defendant had no unlawful intent, was engaged in a lawful act, or acted with caution to prevent harm.

It is essential to seek legal counsel to determine if these defenses can be applied to your specific case and to understand the potential implications and outcomes.

195. Homicide is excusable in the following cases: 1. When committed by accident and misfortune, or in doing any other lawful act by lawful means, with usual and ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent. 2. When committed by accident and misfortune, in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, when no undue advantage is taken, nor any dangerous weapon used, and when the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.



Excusable homicide can have various forms under California law. These may involve homicides occurring in the heat of passion, sudden combat, or accidental situations. Justification for taking a human life may arise when individuals are:

  • Attempting a citizen’s arrest
  • Defending their property or home
  • Acting in self-defense or defense of others

In certain situations, public officers may also have the authority to commit justifiable homicide. If there is uncertainty regarding whether the homicide in question would be considered justifiable or excusable according to California law. With the help of an experienced lawyer you can effectively navigate your case and determine the best course of action.


Under California Penal Code § 195 PC, it is recognized that accidental killings are not considered criminal offenses. To successfully argue that a homicide should be considered excusable, the defense must establish the following:

  • The defendant must have been provoked by the person they killed.
  • The defendant must have acted in the heat of passion.
  • The defendant must not have killed the person with cruelty.
  • The defendant must not have used a dangerous weapon.
  • The defendant must not have intended to kill the person.
  • The defendant must not have taken advantage of the person they killed.
  • The defendant must not have been criminally negligent.

Determining whether a legitimate defense of justifiable or excusable homicide applies to your situation under California law can be quite intricate and ambiguous. To gain clarity, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can provide legal counsel and guide you through the process of examining whether a defense of justifiable or excusable homicide is a viable option in response to the charges against you.


Imagine a person driving within the prescribed speed limit when suddenly, a tree branch falls and shatters the windshield, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and inadvertently collide with a pedestrian, resulting in her death. In such a case, it is highly likely that the District Attorney (D.A.) would choose not to press charges, as the driver was not engaging in any unlawful or reckless behavior and had no criminal intent. The tragic incident can be attributed to an unforeseeable and uncontrollable event, often referred to as an “act of God.”


It is important to note that individuals who are found innocent of criminal homicide charges may still be subject to civil charges for wrongful death. This is due to the fact that the criteria for establishing liability in a wrongful death case are generally lower than those required for criminal liability.



To argue justifiable or excusable homicide, you must demonstrate that you killed someone while protecting yourself or another person from bodily harm or death within your home or on your property.

  • The Castle Doctrine can be utilized as a defense if the killing was in defense of oneself or another person within one’s home. To establish this defense, it must be shown that the person killed was an intruder who intended or attempted to commit a violent act upon entering the home. It is important to have a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary and to use a reasonable amount of force to defend oneself or others. The potential crimes the intruder may have been attempting to commit could include sexual assault, robbery, battery, or murder.
  • Citizen’s Arrest can also be a viable defense if the killing occurred while attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of a person committing a felony. However, this defense will only hold if the arrest was meant to prevent a riot, preserve the peace, and if the felony posed a severe threat to society or created a risk of bodily injury or death.

An experienced attorney will carefully evaluate the specific circumstances of your case to determine the most effective argument for justifiable or excusable homicide. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecuting attorney may be willing to reduce or dismiss the charges. However, your criminal defense lawyer will be prepared to proceed with a trial if necessary.


  • Penal Code § 187 PC – Murder
  • Penal Code § 192 PC – Manslaughter
  • Penal Code § 192(a) PC – Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Penal Code § 192(b) PC – Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Penal Code § 192(c) PC – Vehicular Manslaughter
  • Penal Code § 197 PC – Justifiable Homicide
  • Penal Code § 198 PC – Use of Force in Defense of Property
  • Penal Code § 246 PC – Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car
  • Penal Code § 247(b) PC – Discharge of Firearm in Grossly Negligent Manner


In certain circumstances, the act of killing another person may be justified to protect your own life or the lives of others, and you should not face imprisonment or other criminal penalties for acting in self-defense.

It is essential to collaborate with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to defend yourself against the charges. Cyrus Tabibnia, an experienced criminal defense lawyer practicing in Los Angeles, California, can assist you in navigating excusable homicide cases. For further information on excusable homicide and to arrange a complimentary consultation, reach out to Cyrus at 866-713-2159.


Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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