Understanding Florida’s Second Degree Murder Charges
There are varying degrees of murder in Florida, including first degree murder, second degree murder, third degree murder, manslaughter, and aggravated manslaughter. Each is devastating, yet how the courts determine the degree of murder (and therefore, the punishment) all depends on the circumstances under which the individual was murdered, and the state of mind the murderer was in at the time of the killing. While many people are familiar with first degree murder and manslaughter, second and third degree murder charges are a bit of a gray area. For the sake of this article, we are going to review second degree murder charges and the punishments they entail.
What Constitutes As Second Degree Murder in Florida?
In Florida, a person may be charged with second degree murder when they commit one of the following:
- Murder with a depraved mind; or
- Accomplice felony murder.
A person may be charged with murder with a depraved mind when they kill an individual without any premeditation, and via an inherently dangerous act that, by its very virtue, would require a depraved mind belonging to an individual with no regard for human life. Murder with a depraved mind differs from premeditated first degree murder in that it does not involve any premeditation or an intent to kill.
Accomplice felony murder occurs when an individual is an accomplice to an individual who murders another human being while engaged in the commission of, or the attempted commission of, certain felonies, including arson, burglary, robbery, and a number of others.
In the case of accomplice felony murder, the individuals involved did not have to intend for murder to happen in order to be charged and convicted.
Punishments for Second Degree Murder in Florida
Many individuals are confused by the classification of a second degree murder, as the term “second degree” leads them to believe that the offense is a second degree felony. Those individuals would be wrong. A second degree murder in Florida is classified as a first degree felony, and is punishable according to Level 10 of Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. If convicted of a second degree murder, the offender will receive at least 16 and three quarters years in prison without the chance for parole—unless the individual used a firearm to commit the murder, in which case they will receive a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. The judge may also choose to combine those 16 and three quarter years with one of the following penalties:
- Up to life in prison;
- Up to life on probation; or
- Up to $10,000 in fines.
Consult with a Miami Murder Defense Attorney
At The Baez Law Firm, our Miami murder defense attorneys can help you identify defenses to the charges brought against you and build a strong case in your favor. If you have been charged with second degree murder, you may feel as if you have already lost the battle and have been convicted. While we understand it is easy to feel this way, our experienced Miami murder lawyers are adept at taking on complex challenges and achieving a successful outcome. To begin building your defense today, schedule your free consultation at 800-588-BAEZ as soon as possible.