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Homicide in Florida

Homicide occurs when one person causes the death of another.  However, homicide is not necessarily the same thing as murder.  In fact, homicide is not always illegal.  Depending on the surrounding circumstances, homicide may be justified or excused. Read on to learn more.

Different types of homicide

Florida law recognizes several different types of homicide.  These include:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter. When one person kills another without intending to do so, but through culpable negligence, she commits the crime of involuntary manslaughter.  “Culpable negligence” means showing a reckless disregard for human life, or behaving negligently with utter disregard for the safety of others.  The prosecutor may bring a charge of involuntary manslaughter, for example,  in cases where a driver unintentionally kills another person.  Involuntary manslaughter is a second degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.  Aggravated involuntary manslaughter occurs when the victim is an elderly person, a child, a disabled adult, a police officer, a firefighter, or a paramedic.
  • Voluntary manslaughter. This crime occurs when one person intentionally kills another in the midst of a provocation, but without premeditation or reckless disregard for life.  Voluntary manslaughter is sometimes colloquially described as a “crime of passion.”  A voluntary manslaughter charge requires the prosecution to establish a particular event that constituted the provocation for the homicide.  Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Murder. Florida law defines murder as the unlawful killing of another human being “perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being.  (See Fl. Stat. §782.04.)  Premeditated murder is a capital crime, punishable by the death penalty or life in prison.  Murder also includes the deliberate killing of another with a “depraved mind regardless of human life,” but without premeditation.
  • Felony murder. Felony murder occurs when one person kills another while committing, or attempting to commit, another felony – including, for example, drug trafficking, arson, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, or home invasion.  The perpetrator need not have intended to kill the victim to be charged with felony murder.

Homicide defenses

Homicide is not a crime when it is justified.  By statute, homicide is justified when committed in self-defense – that is, “when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.”  Indeed, Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground Law” makes it clear that deadly force is justified against someone breaking into your home or occupied vehicle, not just against someone threatening you physically.

While not considered justified, homicide is excusable if it occurs by accident while the perpetrator is engaged in any lawful activity conducted by lawful means while exercising ordinary caution.

Consult a Miami criminal defense lawyer

Homicide charges are among the most serious charges an individual can face, and require a determined and aggressive defense.  The Orlando and Miami-based criminal defense lawyers of The Baez Law Firm have the skill and knowledge of the ins and outs of Florida law to provide you with a robust defense both in the criminal justice system and the court of public opinion.  Contact The Baez Law Firm for a consultation without delay.

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