In Florida, murder and manslaughter offenses are two serious forms of homicide that can result in severe penalties upon conviction. Given the seriousness of these offenses and their potential consequences, if you have been charged with homicide in Florida, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney about your case.
Depending on the circumstances of the offense, homicides can result in different charges. Even though some of these charges might be less or more severe than others, if the prosecution finds you guilty of these crimes, your sentence could result in long-term imprisonment and expensive fines.
If you are facing a manslaughter or murder charge, or are under investigation for this type of offense, you should seek effective legal representation. The violent crimes attorneys from Goldman Wetzel can help you review your case and find a viable defense strategy to protect your rights and your future.
Definition of Murder in Florida
Florida Statute § 782.04 defines murder as the illegal act of killing a human being. The charges and penalties for this offense depend on whether the crime was premeditated or not. Depending on the severity of the offense, a charge for murder can range from a capital felony to a felony of second-degree.
When it comes to a murder charge, the prosecution must evaluate the accused’s intent and the circumstances in which the alleged crime occurred. In other words, depending on how the offense was committed, Florida classifies this crime as murder in the first, second or third degree.
Degrees of Murder in Florida
A homicide is classified as first-degree murder if the offense was premeditated. In simple terms, if the murder was intentional or planned, it is considered first-degree. A person can also be accused of murder in the first degree if the offense occurred during the commission of some violent felonies. Some of these felonies include but are not limited to:
- Aggravated stalking
- Aggravated child abuse
- Human trafficking
- Some drug crimes
- Terrorist activities
If you were committing or trying to perpetrate these felonies and, during the process, your accomplice killed a person, you could be charged with second-degree murder. In Florida, this degree of murder does not imply premeditation, but it does include a disregard or indifference for someone’s life.
Finally, a murder in the third degree occurs when a person is killed during the commission or attempt to commit a non-violent felony. This type of murder does not include premeditation. If you are facing homicide charges, you should speak to a criminal attorney to assess your legal options.
Attempted Murder Florida Statute
According to Florida Statute § 782.051, a person can be charged with attempted felony murder if he or she tried to kill someone, but, for some reason, was unable to commit the crime. You could also face attempted felony murder charges if, during the commission of a felony, another person participating in the crime intends to kill another person.
As is the case with murder, the severity of an attempted felony murder depends on the accused’s intention. In other words, if you intentionally aid or try, but fail to kill a person, you could be charged with a first-degree felony.
However, if another person attempted to murder someone while you were committing a crime, your charges could result in a felony in the second degree. If you want to have a better understanding of the charges that you are facing, you should speak to a violent crime attorney.
What Is Manslaughter in Florida
In Florida, manslaughter is an accidental killing. Broadly defined, a manslaughter offense can be considered voluntary if the crime was intentional and resulted amid provocation. Involuntary manslaughter is a form of unintentional killing that results from careless, negligent, or reckless behavior.
Unlike murder, manslaughter offenses do not involve premeditation or a disregard for human life. But just like murders, depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation, manslaughters can be classified as voluntary or involuntary.
As mentioned above, voluntary manslaughter is a crime of passion. In other words, this type of offense is the result of a sudden provocation. Examples of voluntary manslaughter include bar fights and domestic violence disputes.
On the other hand, in Florida, involuntary manslaughter is an accidental killing that results from a person’s negligence or recklessness. Some examples include DUI manslaughter, vessel, and vehicle homicides, or accidentally firing a gun and killing a person.
According to the Florida Statute § 782.07, manslaughter is considered aggravated manslaughter if the victim can be classified as one of the following:
- Elderly person.
- Disabled adult.
- Minor under 18 years of age.
- Firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers or medical technicians that were on duty.
Depending on the type of crime, the charges for manslaughter can range from a second-degree to a first-degree felony.
Florida Murder & Manslaughter Sentence
In Florida, murder and manslaughter are considered felonies. The charges for these crimes can be less or more severe based on the accused’s intent, the type of victim, and if the killing occurred during the commission or attempt to commit another crime.
The table below includes the penalties and punishments associated with murder and manslaughter charges in Florida.
|Offense||Type of Felony||Maximum Fine||Maximum Imprisonment|
|First-degree murder||Capital felony||–||Life imprisonment / Death penalty|
|Second-degree murder||First-degree||$10,000||30 years|
|Aggravated manslaughter||First-degree||$10,000||30 years|
|Third-degree murder||Second-degree||$10,000||15 years|
Note: there is no maximum fine for First-degree murder.
Even though vehicular and vessel homicides are classified as second-degree felonies, if you failed to provide your information or render aid, you could face a first-degree felony charge. In addition to imprisonment and fines, the court might also order you to serve community service.
Just like any other crime, the sentence for murder and manslaughter depends on the details of each case. If you have questions about your charges, their potential penalties, and the legal steps that you need to take, contact the Tampa Bay criminal attorneys from Goldman Wetzel.
Defenses for Homicide Charges
In Florida, a murder or manslaughter charge is one of the most severe criminal accusations that a person can face. Despite this, there are different defenses that your attorney might be able to use. Some of the defenses that the Goldman Wetzel attorneys use include:
- Lack of intent: to convict someone of murder, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted with premeditation (i.e., planned the killing). Your attorney might try to find evidence that proves that the crime was not premeditated.
- Excusable homicide: if applicable to your situation, your defense attorney can try to argue that the homicide was excusable. This type of defense implies that the incident occurred while using ordinary caution and without malice (e.g., you made a mistake while driving and accidentally hit a pedestrian).
- Mistaken identity: if you were wrongly accused of murder or manslaughter, the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel will work to show the prosecution that you were mistakenly identified and had an alibi.
- Self-defense: in some cases, self-defense might be a plausible defense. As an example, your criminal lawyer could show that it was a justifiable homicide because you were trying to stop someone from commiting a felony against you.
- Violation of rights: if the state failed to follow proper procedures, tampered with evidence, or otherwise violated your constitutional rights, we may be able to suppress evidence or get the case dropped.
Keep in mind that the defenses available for homicide charges in Florida depend on the charges that you are facing as well as the circumstances of your case. If you want to discover the potential legal strategies that are best suited for your case, call (727) 828-3900 to talk with our lawyers.
Contact a Tampa Bay Violent Crime Attorney
A murder or manslaughter charge is a serious accusation that can result in severe legal and social consequences. Given that a conviction can change both your and your family’s life, if you are facing an investigation for homicide, you should enlist the help of an experienced and aggressive criminal lawyer.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients facing criminal charges for murder and manslaughter throughout the Tampa Bay area including St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Clearwater, Sarasota, Tampa, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Dunedin, Largo, Venice, and surrounding areas.
If you or a loved one are facing charges or are being investigated for murder or manslaughter, you should consider speaking to a defense attorney. Contact us today or call us directly at (727) 828-3900 to book a free, no-obligation consultation. Goldman Wetzel will fight to protect your rights and your future.