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California Penal Code 401 Aiding Suicide

Feb 27, 2019 | Penal Code

According to California Penal Code Section 401 it is prohibited to intentionally aid, advice, or encourage another person to commit suicide.

In Order to be Found Guilty for Penal Code 401 Prosecution Must Prove

Prosecutor must establish the following elements to prove that a defendant is guilty of advising or encouraging a suicide,

  • Person tried to commit or committed suicide
  • Defendant intentionally aided, advised or encouraged that person to commit suicide.

What Does “Aiding, Advising or Encouraging Suicide” Mean?

“Aiding, advising or encouraging a suicide” means the following:

  • Counseling, persuading or advising a person to commit suicide
  • Providing a person whit necessary tools, such as lethal doses of drugs, poison or a weapon with knowledge that those tools are likely to be used for committing a suicide

Even if a person survived the suicide attempt you can still be charged of assisting in suicide as a California attempt crime.

Difference Between Murder and Assisting a Suicide

If the defendant helps another person to kill himself he will be guilty under Penal Code Section 401. In case a person asked the defendant to kill him and the defendant carry out that act, then his action will be considered murder, voluntary manslaughter, or attempted murder.

California California’s End of Life Option Act: Physician-Assisted Suicide

California’s End of Life Option Act allows a person who is diagnosed with a terminal disease to ask for an aid-in-dying drug from his physician. For receiving an approval the physician must submit detailed information to the California Department of Public Health.

What Conditions Must Be Met Under California’s End of Life Option Act?

The patient must meet the following conditions for getting help to commit a suicide under California’s End of Life Option Act:

  • Patient must be a California resident at least 18 years old
  • According to medical judgment patient must have a diagnosis of an irreversible disease which will result in death in a 6 months
  • Patient must be able to make medical decisions by himself and must voluntarily requested an aid-in-dying drug
  • Patient must be able to self-administer the drug

If the all above mentioned requirement are met the physicians cannot be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 401 for assisting a terminally ill patient’s suicide.

Defenses to California Penal Code 401 Aiding, Advising or Encouraging Suicide

Common defenses to California Penal Code 401 Aiding, Advising or Encouraging Suicide include

Defendant didn’t have a deliberate intent to help in a suicide

In case the defendant unintentionally aided or encouraged a person to commit suicide without intent, he can’t be found guilty of this crime.

The person didn’t have intent to commit a suicide

Maybe the person who attempted or committed suicide didn’t have actual intent to kill himself. The attempt or the death may have been an accident.

California Penalties for Assisting, Aiding or Encouraging Suicide

Under California law aiding, advising or encouraging a suicide is considered a felony. The punishment depends on whether the person survived the suicide or not. Defendant can receive lighter punishment in case the person has survived.

What are the Penalties for Penal Code 401?

The possible penalties under Penal Code 401 Aiding, Advising or Encouraging Suicide” include:

  • Sixteen months, two or three years in California state prison; and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Felony probation

Glendale Criminal Defense Lawyers

Our Glendale criminal defense lawyers experienced penal code 401 charges and are here to answer any questions If you or a loved one has been charged with penal code 401 and you would like to discuss your case confidentially with one of our criminal defense lawyers at 310-933-5171.