Orange County Criminal Defense

Assisted Suicide Illegal In California

In this country, suicide itself is not illegal, but many states outlaw people who encourage someone to commit suicide.  One case that made national news recently is the case of Michelle Carter.

In August 2017, Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months prison for encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide.  The incident occurred in Massachusetts.  This case made national news because Ms. Carter was not physically present when her boyfriend killed himself.  Instead, the prosecution convicted her based on text messages she had sent to her boyfriend encouraging him to kill himself prior to the night in question and that she was allegedly on the phone with him on the night of the suicide, telling him to “just do it”.  There is no law in Massachusetts against encouraging people to commit suicide but Ms. Carter was convicted of manslaughter for her role in Mr. Roy’s suicide.

California, on the other hand, does have a specific law that prohibits encouraging someone to commit suicide and the maximum penalty would be three years prison.  Specifically, Penal Code section 40 states:

Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony.

If the same facts were present in California, then Ms. Carter would most likely be convicted of Penal Code section 40, but not manslaughter.

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