Three Degrees of Homicide in Florida
Murder is the most serious crime a person can commit in Florida and anywhere in the US, but many people do not realize that there are many different offenses that fall into this category depending on the underlying circumstances. The Homicide Chapter 782 of the Florida Criminal Code includes specific descriptions of the crimes, but they all share one key characteristic: The killing of one human being by another. Whether the end result comes through an intentional, premeditated act, a “height of passion” killing, a fight that leads to death, or many other scenarios, the charges are extremely severe.
Every murder crime is a felony, punishable by life imprisonment in most cases – or even the death penalty in certain situations. Time is of the essence to retain a Florida homicide defense attorney if you were arrested, but you should understand the basics regarding the three degrees of murder.
- Murder: There are three crimes that are classified as murder, with the state of mind being a key factor.
- First Degree Murder involves a plan or scheme with the goal being to kill another person.
- A killing involving an inherently dangerous act that demonstrates a depraved mind, with no regard for life, may lead to charges for Second Degree Murder.
- You could face Third Degree Murder charges if you unintentionally kill another during the commission of a non-violent felony.
- Manslaughter: The distinction with this form of homicide is whether actions are voluntary or involuntary, but not in the sense that you might expect. The focus is on the underlying act, which may have been intentionally negligent or reckless, but which still caused the death of another person. In other words, you could be arrested if you intended to commit the act, even where you did not intend for someone to die because of your actions.
- Vehicular Homicide: Anyone who causes a fatality by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, i.e., in a way that is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, could be arrested for vehicular homicide. Drunk driving is a common scenario, but charges may also stem from drag racing or road rage incidents.
Other Crimes Related to Homicide: Additional offenses in the category of murder include:
- Felony Murder: When a person kills another while committing or attempting to commit another crime, the offense is Felony Murder – a First Degree Murder crime. The key is that the underlying offense must be one designated by statute, and the list includes most violent felonies.
- Drug-Related Fatalities: When a person’s death is proximately caused by taking drugs that you provided, such as through sales or trafficking, you could face First Degree Felony Murder charges.
A Florida Homicide Defense Lawyer Can Provide Details on Homicide Crimes
This overview regarding the different types of murder in Florida may be helpful, but no summary will be sufficient to protect your rights if you are facing charges. To learn more about potential defense strategies, please contact Fort Lauderdale homicide attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and discuss how to proceed.