Homicide Charges in Florida
Homicide in Florida is a crime that involves the unlawful killing of another person. These cases are normally investigated by the most experienced police personnel and prosecuted by highly skilled government attorneys.
Because of the severity of homicide charges, an accused individual should have a qualified Florida criminal defense lawyer to defend them. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to identify strategies for raising reasonable doubt.
Florida Statute Section 782.041a
When a traffic accident in Florida results in a fatality, police immediately start a homicide investigation. In some cases, a traffic homicide investigator and prosecutor from the State Attorney’s Office may even arrive at the scene to make sure evidence is collected correctly. A person accused of a homicide in Florida will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer that can help defend them from serious charges.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is a state-wide investigative law enforcement agency with nearly 2,000 employees statewide. The FDLE investigates a variety of crimes including homicide, public official misconduct, and police misconduct. It also specializes in major drug trafficking investigations and provides security for the governor of Florida.
Each judicial circuit has its own State Attorney, who is appointed to her position by the governor and is not answerable to the county sheriffs’ offices or local police departments within the jurisdiction. Each State Attorney’s Office employs investigators who are sworn law enforcement officers. The investigators are divided into squads that specialize in particular types of crime, such as homicide or robbery.
Different Types of Homicide Under Florida Law
If you or someone you know has been named a person of interest in a homicide investigation, or charged with murder or manslaughter, it is important to retain a skilled Florida Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Criminal charges such as these are among the most serious offenses, and carry severe penalties if convicted. The prosecution will use their most seasoned detectives, prosecutors, and resources to secure a conviction.
There are three types of homicide under Florida law, all involving the death of a human being: murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter. Murder involves the intentional taking of a life, usually committed by striking the victim in the head or neck with a weapon. It can also be a result of the commission of another felony, such as burglary, kidnapping, trafficking, or aggravated fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury or death.
Manslaughter is a less severe form of homicide, but still involves the intentional killing of a human being. Manslaughter can be either voluntary or involuntary, and involuntary manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida. Voluntary manslaughter is defined as a killing that occurred without malice and in the heat of passion. It can also be a result of an accident or misfortune, such as when a firearm accidentally fires and kills a person.
First-degree murder is committed when a person kills another in violation of the law. A conviction for this charge could lead to life in prison without the possibility of parole or even the death penalty in states that have it. This is a capital offense, so it is extremely important that a skilled criminal defense attorney be retained at the very beginning of any case involving this charge.
To be charged with this crime, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted with a depraved mind without regard for human life. They must also show that the killing lacked premeditation or planning and was not done during a qualifying violent felony, such as burglary, robbery, carjacking, aggravated child abuse, home invasion, and more.
Second-degree murder is charged when a killing occurs during the commission of another crime and is not intentional. It is similar to voluntary manslaughter, but the prosecution must prove that the killing was caused by a sudden provocation and was not planned in advance. A conviction for this crime can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are accused of second-degree murder in Florida, the prosecution will have the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended the killing of another human being. The state must also show that you killed as a result of a sudden provocation such as a sudden rage or a momentary loss of self-control. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
In a case of second-degree murder, prosecutors are trying to prove that you committed the killing with a depraved mind and showed a complete disregard for human life. This type of homicide is different from premeditated first-degree murder because it does not require a specific intent to kill, nor did the act have to occur during the commission of a felony.
A conviction of second-degree murder carries a penalty of up to life in prison and a minimum of sixteen and three quarters years without parole. The minimum prison term increases to 25 years if you used a firearm to commit the crime. There are several pretrial and trial defenses that can be utilized in a second-degree murder case including excusable homicide, justifiable homicide, and self-defense.
The lowest of all homicide charges is third-degree murder. It occurs when a person is killed during the commission or attempted commission of a non-violent felony offense without any intent to kill and is not based on premeditation. A person who is found guilty of this crime faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and must also pay a stiff fine.
A good criminal defense attorney is critical for anyone facing homicide charges in Florida because of the serious consequences. A conviction can result in long-term imprisonment and expensive fines, and if you are found to be responsible for the death of another person, you may have difficulty finding employment or renting an apartment in the future.
The law places a heavy burden of proof on the prosecution, so it is important that you hire a skilled Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer to defend you against this charge. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and determine the best strategies for challenging the evidence presented by the prosecutor.
When a killing does not meet the legal definition of murder in Florida, the accused may still be charged with manslaughter. This crime is much less serious than murder because there is no malice aforethought involved in manslaughter. This is true of both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter is when you kill another person out of provocation or the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when you cause someone’s death through culpable negligence. This can include things like recklessly driving a vehicle in a way that causes another person to die. It also includes harming a viable fetus when you cause an injury to the mother that leads to fetal death.
Your attorney might be able to help you fight the charges based on a lack of intent or by showing that the act was excusable or necessary. In the case of vehicular homicide, your defense attorney might be able to demonstrate that you were acting in self-defense when you killed someone who was trying to kill you or commit a felony against you.
Defending Homicide Charges in Florida
Homicide is one of the most serious crimes in Florida, and it can result in life imprisonment if you are found guilty. If you are a suspect in a homicide case, it is vital to seek the guidance of an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
An attorney can help level the playing field for you and fight to protect your rights, freedom and future. An attorney can also help you to develop a strong defense, and they may be able to prevent homicide charges or reduce them to manslaughter.
For example, ringing your ex-wife’s doorbell and shooting her in the face would be first-degree murder because it is premeditated. However, if you shot your victim during a robbery and were in the heat of the moment, you might be charged with second-degree murder because it does not involve premeditation but shows disregard for human life.
Manslaughter is less serious, but a conviction can still permanently change your life. It is not uncommon for the prosecution to charge people with murder or manslaughter who are innocent, and you should never assume that you cannot win your case.
Protect Your Rights with an Attorney
Homicide charges are among the most serious crimes for which a person can be charged in Florida. Consequently, prosecutors will dedicate their best investigators and extensive resources to these cases, and a criminal defense attorney must be well-versed in all aspects of homicide laws.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a case, a convicted homicide defendant can face various penalties, including life in prison without the possibility of parole and even the death penalty. It is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer with a track record of success handling these types of cases.
The most severe type of homicide under Florida law is first-degree murder, which can be committed either by premeditation or while committing another felony crime such as drug trafficking, sexual battery or carjacking. In order to be convicted of this offense, the state must prove that you killed someone else with malice aforethought and no reasonable alternative. The less severe type of homicide in Florida is manslaughter, which can be caused either by intent or by accident and can result in imprisonment for up to 15 years.