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How Is Murder Or Homicide Defined In The State Of Florida?

In the state of Florida, murder and homicide are different words used to describe the same concept. Murder is a more colloquial term, while homicide is often used in courts and legal settings. However it is referred to, these words describe situations wherein a person has been unlawfully killed.

There are different “degrees” of homicide in Florida state law, and those degrees are described in the Florida Statutes at section 782.04. At this section of the law, the different degrees describe in what manner a murder was carried out. The penalties of these crimes are standard within each degree and grow in severity with each progressive degree.

What Are The Different Murder Charges Under Florida Law?

The different murder charges under Florida state law are categorized by “degrees” of severity. The most serious murder charge is first degree murder, then comes second degree, and finally third degree follows as the charge of lowest severity within the three. Florida is one of only three states that recognize a third degree of murder.

Murder in the first degree is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with a premeditated plan and intent to cause death.

Other circumstances in which a person may be charged with first degree murder can be when homicide occurs during the course of “enumerated felonies”. Florida Statutes Section 782.04 includes a list of enumerated felonies which include aggressive offenses such as arson, robbery, and other violent crimes. If a person is charged with one of these violent crimes and causes the death of another person during the course of that crime, they may be charged with murder in the first degree, in addition to the felony charge for the initial offense.

One example for this would be a situation in which, during the course of a robbery, someone is killed. This person could be involved in the perpetration of the robbery, or be a bystander of any kind. Under such circumstances, one may be charged with first degree murder.

Second degree murder is considered the unlawful killing of a person as a result of actions that are inherently dangerous to them and are evidence of a complete disregard for human life. To be charged with second degree murder, there is no requirement of planning or premeditation. Additionally, you may also be charged with second degree murder if the death of a person occurred under the circumstances of an enumerated felony that was being committed at the time.

Third degree murder is the unlawful killing of a person, when perpetrated without any design or intent to effect death, by someone who is engaged in committing or attempting to commit any felonies not enumerated under Florida Statutes Section 782.04.

What Are The Penalties Associated With A Murder Conviction In The State Of Florida?

Penalties for a murder conviction in the State of Florida vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the degree of murder a person is convicted of.

For first degree murder convictions, the penalties can be life imprisonment, or even death. If the state were to seek the death penalty, they would have to provide notice to the defendant. They would also need to provide a list of aggravating factors which must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state does not seek to impose the death penalty, the only other penalty available is life imprisonment.

Second degree murder convictions are punishable by up to, but no more than life imprisonment. The death penalty is not applicable to second degree or lower murder convictions.

Third degree murder convictions are punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.

What Are Potential Defenses To Murder Or Homicide Charges In Florida?

The are three primary defenses for murder or homicide in the state of Florida. You can learn more about them below:

Excusable homicide: Excusable homicide is a rarely used or applicable defense. However, there are situations which warrant its implementation.

One instance in which an excusable homicide defense might apply could be if the killing was committed by accident or by misfortune while performing any lawful act by lawful means and by exercising usual ordinary caution and while acting without any unlawful intent.

Another instance where this defense may be reasonably used could be if the killing was committed by accident or by misfortune in the heat of passion on a sudden and sufficient provocation.

Lastly, excusable homicide may have sufficient grounds for use if the killing was committed by accident and misfortune as a result of sudden combat. This is only appropriate when no dangerous weapon was used, and the killing was not done in any cruel or unusual manner.

Justifiable Homicide: Justifiable homicide defenses are used when the killing of a human being happened through resisting an attempt by them to kill you or to commit a felony against you.

Self Defense: Self-defense can be a useful method of legal defense in situations wherein you were defending yourself from the crime of first degree murder, in particular. Self-defense is also referred to as the justifiable use of deadly force. For more information on this defense method and its application, please review the Section on Self-Defense in the State of Florida.

For more information on Murder/Homicide Charges In Florida State, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (407) 794-2007 today.

John N. Klein IV, Esq.

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