Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable “heat of passion” or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
For example, Dan comes home to find his wife in bed with Victor. At a stoplight the next day, Dan sees Victor riding in the passenger seat of a nearby car. Dan pulls out a gun and fires three shots into the car, missing Victor but killing the driver of the car.
Sentencing for Second Degree Murder
California Penal Code Section 190.5
Except as provided in subdivision (b), (c), or (d), every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life.