The absolute most serious charge anyone can face is one that involves the unlawful killing of another human being. There are different ways that the government can charge and accuse you of murdering another person and each one is extraordinarily serious with sentences from Life in Prison to the Death Penalty.
If you have been contacted by law enforcement in reference to a homicide investigation, do not speak to anyone before contacting a lawyer. Refuse to answer all questions and especially do not agree to meet with Homicide Detectives at the police station. There is no way you are going to be able to explain to the police on your own. Whatever you say can and will be used against you, nowhere in the law are your rights and future more dependent on good legal advice than when you are in the midst of a murder investigation.
Types of Murder Charges
Premeditated and First Degree
Premeditated Murder occurs when a person intentionally kills another human being pursuant to a plan designed to kill that person. First Degree Murder is punishable by the Death Penalty in Florida or Life in prison. The State Attorney’s Office at their sole discretion may decide to pursue the death penalty or to waive it as part of a sentence on your particular murder case.
Second Degree Murder
Second Degree Murder occurs when there is a killing, but there is no evidence of a premeditated plan. Murder in the Second Degree is sometimes referred to as Depraved Mind or Depraved Heart Murder. What this means is that the killing occurred during an act of the defendant that was so dangerous to others that it showed evidence of a “depraved mind” showing absolutely no regard for human life. Second Degree Murder is punishable by life in prison.
Third Degree Murder
Third Degree Murder occurs when there is a killing with no evidence of a premeditated plan or depraved mind. Instead, the killing occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a non-violent felony. Third Degree Murder is a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Felony Murder occurs when a person dies while you or your accomplice are engaged in the commission, attempted commission of any one of the following felonies: Aggravated abuse of an elderly person, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, aircraft piracy, arson, burglary, carjacking, drug trafficking, escape, kidnapping, home invasion robbery, murder of another human being, resisting an officer with violence, terrorism, unlawful throwing placing or discharging of a destructive device. You will be charged with Felony murder whether or not you intended for someone to die as a result of your actions.
Manslaughter occurs when your alleged actions were intentional and resulted in the death of another person. Manslaughter can also occur when you induce, encourage or persuade another person to commit an act that resulted in the death of a human being. Lastly, Manslaughter can be committed through an act of Culpable Negligence, which gave rise to the death of another person. Manslaughter is a 2nd Degree Felony punishable by up to 15 years in Florida state prison.
Possible Defenses to Murder or Manslaughter Charge
Excusable Homicide – Killing is committed entirely by accident without any intent and while acting lawfully.
Justifiable Homicide – Killing someone who is trying to kill you.
Self Defense / Stand your Ground – Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law has become somewhat famous in the media. Sometimes referred to as “Justifiable use of force” Self Defense is a simple concept: A person has the right to defend ones self or another person so long as the force used matches the threat of forced used by the attacker. However, sometimes-justifiable use of force results in the use of Deadly Force. A person who is attacked no longer has the duty to retreat and has the right to “Stand their Ground” and meet force with force including deadly force if believed it is necessary to prevent death or great harm. Prosecutors and judges look at these cases very carefully. To raise this defense, fact specific motions can be filed in court. If successful, your charges will be dismissed by the Court rather than going through the process of a trial by jury.
Contact a Broward County Murder Defense Attorney
The Office of Attorney Grant Schwarz has been representing criminal defense clients since 1979. Contact the office of Attorney Grant Schwarz if you or someone you know has been charged with Murder or Manslaughter in Broward. Aggressive prosecutors and judges need to be met by an equally aggressive and knowledgeable attorney. Grant Schwarz has the knowledge and experience to properly defend your Florida Murder or Manslaughter Case. Call today for a free consultation.