Homicide: First and Second Degree Murder and Florida Law


Homicide is the unlawful killing of another human being. Under Florida state laws, there are several degrees of murder and manslaughter. The type of murder determines the potential punishment if there is a conviction at the end of the murder trial. First-degree murder carries steep penalties; including life in prison and the death penalty.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most severe homicide charge under Florida law and is a capital felony.

  1. Premeditated killings;
  2. Felony murders;
  3. Murder committed during a drug dealing crime.

Premeditated Murder

A prosecutor must show a defendant’s intent to kill to charge a defendant with first-degree murder. The prosecutor must prove there was planning and present evidence of the defendant’s steps taken to prepare for the killing.

Felony Murder

Felony murder leads to a first-degree murder charge under Florida law. Felony murder is a murder the defendant commits during a felony; including home-invasion, kidnapping, burglary, and sexual battery. If the prosecutor can prove the defendant had the intent to kill while involved in the crime, a first-degree murder charge will be given.

Murder During a Drug-Related Crime

A murder caused by drug-dealing or during a drug-related crime must be charged as a first-degree murder according to Florida state law.

Additionally, if a victim dies of a drug overdose, the state can try the drug distributor with first-degree murder.

First-Degree Murder Defense

First-degree murder requires clear legal arguments proving the defendant did not have the intent to kill and/or lacked premeditation and did not plan to kill.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder charges lack premeditation required for a first-degree murder charge. A prosecutor must prove a defendant acted without regard for human life, lacked premeditation and planning, and acted with a depraved mind to charge a defendant with second-degree murder. Second-degree murder does not require proof of intent to kill.

First and Second-Degree Murder Punishments

  • First-Degree Felony - Up to 30 years in prison, $10,000 in fines.
  • First-Degree Capital Felony - Possible death penalty when committed by a defendant during a battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, child abuse, home-invasion, or carjacking.
  • First-Degree Felony - Up to life in prison if an accomplice murders during a felony.
  • Second-Degree Felony - Up to 15 years in prison if an injury results during an attempted second-degree murder.

Second-Degree Murder Defenses

  • Excusable homicide caused by an accident;
  • Justifiable use of deadly force used to defend against a felony;
  • Spontaneous killing may qualify as manslaughter.

Ronald Chapman

Murder is one of the most severe crimes under Florida law and carries the finite penalty (the death penalty). It is essential to contact Ronald Chapman, an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with murder.

Defense Attorney West Palm Beach

Ronald Chapman practices criminal defense in both State and Federal Courts within the State of Florida. Since 1990, Mr. Chapman has been representing people accused of committing various types of crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, Ronald Chapman can help.

Schedule your FREE Consultation! Call (561) 832-4348 or visit his website.

Visit us at https://www.justiceflorida.com/ You can also connect with the West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Office online today! Ronald Chapman, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, dedicated to defending your rights. Contact him today to begin to discuss your case.

Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis Street, Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

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400 Clematis St. Suite 206, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Desde 1990, el Sr. Chapman ha representado a personas que han sido acusadas de cometer delitos de varios tipos, tales como DUI, violencia doméstica, posesión de armas, posesión de drogas, eliminación de antecedentes penales, infracciones de tránsito, asesinato, homicidio involuntario, abuso infantil, delitos sexuales, abuso de personas mayores, apelaciones y violaciones de libertad condicional.
Abogado de Defensa Criminal en West Palm Beach, FL

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