A 15-year-old Bakersfield teen gave birth to a baby boy in a bathroom at her home. Now the teen’s mother is facing murder charges. According to reports, Beant Kaur Dhillon drowned the child and buried him in the back yard after learning that her daughter had given birth. She admitted to police that her goal was to “prevent family shame.”
She has been charged with several crimes, including felony first-degree murder. If convicted, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
First-Degree Murder Charges in San Diego
Generally speaking, you can face murder charges when you are responsible for intentionally ending another person’s life with malice aforethought. In California, the crime of murder is divided into two distinct categories: first-degree and second-degree. First-degree murder involves acts that are premeditated. Second-degree murder involves acts that occur in the heat of the moment.
The Bakersfield grandmother has been charged with felony first-degree murder. To convict, prosecutors will have to prove she:
- Is responsible for her grandson’s death, and
- Acted willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation.
It’s important to understand what these terms mean.
Willfully: Willful actions are those that are done on purpose and with intent. The state has to prove that Dhillon intended to kill her grandson.
Deliberately: Deliberately means that the decision to kill is not made “rashly, impulsively, or without careful consideration.” Instead, it is a calculated decision based on some internal reflection.
Premeditation: Premeditation simply means that the decision to kill was made in advance. Put another way, premeditation occurs when a person decides to kill “before completing the act that caused death.”
It doesn’t matter how much time passes between when you decide to kill and carry out the act that causes death.
Dhillon reportedly admitted to police that she killed her grandson to protect her family. She didn’t want anyone to know that her teenage daughter had been pregnant or that she gave birth to a child. There is also evidence to suggest that Dhillon called her husband to help her dispose of the body. The state will likely rely heavily on these pieces of evidence as they prosecute her case. Prosecutors will argue that her decision to kill her grandson was calculated, deliberate, and willful.
Prosecutors Will Likely Seek Maximum Penalties
Crimes involving children are given extra attention from start to finish. In most cases involving children, prosecutors do not hesitate to seek the maximum penalty that can be imposed by law. This is certainly true when a child is killed.
In California, first-degree murder is always a felony offense. Penalties for first-degree murder, as defined in Penal Code 187 PC, can include:
- A minimum of 25 years in a California state prison
- A maximum of life in prison, and
- Criminal fines.
The death penalty can also be on the table in certain situations. This includes murders committed for financial gain, to suppress witness testimony, or as an act of hate.
Prosecutors consider aggravating and mitigating factors when determining an appropriate punishment for a crime. When a child is intentionally killed by a family member, the state will likely try to put the defendant away for life.
Defending First-Degree Murder Charges in San Diego
First-degree murder is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit. However, anyone accused of a crime, including murder, has the right to defend themselves. When representing a defendant charged with first-degree murder, a San Diego criminal defense attorney may argue:
- Death was accidental
- Violations of Constitutional rights
- False accusations, or
A strong defense can prevent the state from proving its case. When this happens, prosecutors may be willing to negotiate a plea or drop the charges.