Attempted Murder in Florida: Act Plus Intent
A Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputy is facing multiple charges, including attempted murder, stemming from his relationship with an elderly woman he befriended during a service call in October 2016. According to a Miami Herald report, the man scammed the woman out of $65,000 and gave away her dog on Craigslist in the months that followed, leading police to put him on administrative leave. Apparently upset about the situation, the deputy showed up at the woman’s home on January 12, 2017 and tried to kill her with sleeping pills. The woman woke up in her garage with the car’s engine running, then called police to report the incident. Police arrested the man and charged him with attempted murder, a unique crime under Florida law due to the incomplete nature of the offense.
Intent to Murder
In general, attempted murder is the crime committed when a person intends to kill someone else and takes certain steps to carry out the homicide – but stops short for whatever reason. All crimes require both intent and an act; the “intent” in attempted murder focuses on the offender’s mindset. A prosecuting attorney must show two aspects of intent:
- Intent to Act: There must be a specific intent to take one or more steps required to kill another person. For instance, if you are thinking about committing murder, buy a gun, and drive to that person’s home, there is an intent to act. However, if you merely buy a gun and go to the shooting range, there is no intent to further the crime.
- Intent to Kill: You must also have the specific intent to actually kill the victim. It’s not enough that you merely meant to cause injury or make a threat. This aspect of attempted murder can be tricky for a prosecutor, but there are circumstances where the intent to kill is obvious. For example, if you aim for the head when shooting a gun, there is intent to kill. Aiming for the legs is likely not an intent to commit murder.
Actions to Further the Crime of Murder
In addition to intent to commit murder, there must be some direct step toward completing the crime. Courts have interpreted this to mean that taking certain preparations is not enough; the accused must actually take an action or series of actions that would lead to perpetration of the crime. Thinking about the crime, discussing it, and making ancillary plans fall short; there must be a direct step, which depends upon the specific facts of the case.
Count on a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer to Fight Your Case
There’s a fine line between committing a crime and the attempt to commit a crime under Florida law, but a prosecuting attorney must still prove the essential elements of intent and act in order to get a conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney will identify and attack weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case in order to defend your interests in court. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has an extensive background in all aspects of criminal cases, and will protect your rights when accused of attempting a crime. Please contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation.