Murder and manslaughter charges, two of the most serious types of homicide offenses, bring exceptionally severe penalties upon conviction. The state invests substantial energy and resources in investigating and prosecuting cases of this nature, making it very important for defendants to secure a criminal defense attorney to help safeguard their rights and to fight the charges.
If you or a loved one has been accused of or is under investigation for a violent offense such as murder or manslaughter, call Goldman Wetzel to speak with one of our murder and manslaughter lawyers in Sarasota about your case. After reviewing the facts, we can counsel you on the best way to proceed and explain how we may be able to help protect your future.
Call 941-405-5193 for a consultation.
What Types of Murder/Manslaughter Cases Does Goldman Wetzel Accept?
Our team of defense lawyers has a vast background in both prosecution and defense, giving us valuable insight into how the prosecution’s office operates. We accept all types of homicide cases in Sarasota and throughout Florida, regardless of whether the case is under federal or state jurisdiction.
While we are selective about the cases we take, our attorneys have the skills and resources to tackle even the toughest violent crime cases like murder and manslaughter. Below are a few of the homicide charges with which we can help:
- Murder of a law enforcement officer;
- Attempted felony murder;
- Aggravated manslaughter;
- Vehicular homicide;
- Vessel homicide;
- Assisted self-murder;
- Killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother; and
- Unnecessary killing to prevent an unlawful act.
What Are the Penalties for Murder and Manslaughter in Florida?
Given the gravity of homicide offenses, the penalties are notably harsh. And because the big difference between murder and manslaughter is that the former involves planning and premeditation (as opposed to manslaughter where the killing occurs without planning, e.g., upon provocation), the penalties for murder are much heavier than for manslaughter.
The particular punishment the court doles out depends on the type of homicide and the surrounding factors.
Florida recognizes two types of manslaughter:
- A) Manslaughter: Florida Statute § 782.07(1)defines manslaughter as “the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another.” Unlike other states, Florida does not differentiate between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In either event, it is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- B) Aggravated manslaughter: When the manslaughter victim is an elderly person, disabled adult, child, or officer, the state considers the offense aggravated manslaughter, a first-degree felony. This doubles the potential punishment to 30 years in prison.
Florida also recognizes two degrees of murder:
- A) Murder in the First Degree: When a person kills another after planning the event, while committing another felony, or via distribution of a controlled substance, the state will deem the crime murder in the first degree. This is the most serious type of murder charge, considered a capital felony, punishable by either life imprisonment or death.
- B) Murder in the Second Degree: Florida Statute § 782.04(2) defines this type of murder as, “the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.”
In other words, when the perpetrator has a depraved (morally corrupt) mind and kills someone — without premeditation — the state will charge the person with murder in the second degree, a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
How Can I Defend Against Murder or Manslaughter Charges?
There are numerous strategies that can work when facing murder or manslaughter charges. Your first task is to speak to one of our criminal defense lawyers about your case. We will look at the existing evidence, collect new data, and develop a strong defense strategy applicable to your case.
In cases of true innocence, we will get to work collecting supporting evidence, e.g., an alibi, forensics, etc., to bring the prosecutor or to use in your trial. In other situations, negotiating with the prosecutor for lesser charges might be the best scenario. When called in to help during the onset of your case, we might be able to get the charges reduced from murder to manslaughter, for instance.
If the case proceeds to trial, we will comb through the state’s case and look for weaknesses, errors, or questionable evidence.
To prove murder or manslaughter, the prosecutor must demonstrate a specific list of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. We will work to generate that reasonable doubt, exposing flaws in the state’s case. For example, to prove murder in the first degree, the state must prove the defendant planned the killing. If we can successfully show that there was no premeditation, e.g., that the homicide happened suddenly upon provocation, then the state’s case will crumble.
To ensure we have the time to fully prepare your case, contact our office as soon as possible. We must investigate the facts; speak to experts and witnesses; file motions; and perform other tasks to bring the strongest case possible on your behalf.
I Am Under Investigation for Murder/Manslaughter in Sarasota. What Do I Do?
First, do not submit to investigators’ questioning without first speaking to one of our attorneys. The state can use anything you say against you. Instead, call our office and we will begin preparing your case, even before the prosecutor files charges against you. In some cases, we might be able to send the District Attorney evidence that shows you are innocent and wrongfully accused, allowing you to avoid charges altogether.
If the state has already filed charges, the sooner you put us to work on your case, the better the chances of a more successful outcome, be it reduced charges, mitigated penalties, or a dismissal/acquittal.
Call our office at 941-405-5193 today and ask to speak to one of our murder and manslaughter defense lawyers in Sarasota about your case.