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Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 782.04, "murder" is classified as follows:
First-degree murder is premeditated murder OR "felony murder." "Felony murder" involves homicide that is committed during the course of an underlying felony offense, such as robbery or kidnapping. It is NOT necessary to commit the actual act of homicide for a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder if his/her co-defendant committed the act during the commission of the underlying felony.
Second-degree murder, in general, is an unlawful killing when perpetrated by an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life. Premeditation is not a requirement.
Third-degree murder is essentially "felony murder" but applies to all underlying felony offenses not specifically addressed in the first-degree murder statutory provision.
Manslaughter, as defined by Florida Statute Section 782.07, involves killing by act, procurement or culpable negligence without lawful justification, and is a second-degree felony punishable by 15-years in prison.
Aggravated manslaughter involves the same elements as manslaughter, but pertains to an act committed upon an elderly person, disabled person or a person under the age of 18. Aggravated manslaughter is a first-degree felony punishable by 30 years in prison.
Motive is NOT an element, and as such the State is not required to prove why a person committed the act.
Obviously, given the significant ramifications of a homicide charge, there are a large number of considerations for the defense team. An experienced criminal defense attorney will investigate the entire case, and may conduct relevant depositions, challenge witness statements, conduct independent forensic analysis of evidence, and develop mitigation evidence.
Common defenses may involve:
Brooke Elvington is an AV-rated attorney with more than 18 years experience. Ms. Elvington is not only an experienced trial attorney, she is devotes a large portion of her practice to criminal appeals and post-conviction, and has taught criminal law, constitutional law, evidence, and wrongful convictions at the university level.
Contact Brooke today for your free consultation!