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Second Degree Murder in Florida

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According to Florida statutes, there are several types of homicide. Florida laws prosecute the charges and convictions of homicides with varying degrees. These degrees include first-degree murder, second-degree murder, third-degree murder, manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated manslaughter. 

Each charge has a devastating effect on the victims and defendants. Courts will look at the details and circumstances of a case to determine the degree of murder and the penalties if convicted. Many individuals are familiar with first-degree murder and manslaughter

It can prove beneficial to your case, to understand the multiple types of murders established by state law and understand the differences among them. Second-degree murder, for example, is not a premeditated killing, which is required for a charge of first-degree murder. 

Second and third-degree murder charges can be a bit complicated. Our experienced Florida trial lawyers have provided this article to review what second-degree murder charges are and the punishments they entail. 

To prove second-degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted without regard for human life. If you’ve been accused of second-degree murder in Florida, speak with a skillful criminal defense attorney in your community today to protect your rights, have your charges reduced, or have someone advocate for the minimum sentence on your behalf. 

Second Degree Murder

A person may be charged with second-degree murder in Florida if they commit one of the following acts:

Murder with a Depraved Mind

Murder with a depraved mind is committed when a person is killed, without premeditation. The murder happens as a result of an imminently dangerous act to another, demonstrating a depraved mind and displaying no regard for human life.

The primary distinction between premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree murder with a depraved mind is thatthe former requires a premeditated intent to kill.

Accomplice Second Degree Felony Murder

Accomplice second-degree felony murder occurs when a person acts as an accomplice while their partner murders another human being while engaged in the commission, or attempted commission, of the following felonies, regardless of whether the death was intentional:

  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Escape
  • Home-invasion robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder of another human being
  • Robbery
  • Sexual battery
  • Terrorism
  • Trafficking in Controlled Substances
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Violently resisting arrest

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. If you’ve been charged with attempted second-degree murder, protect your legal rights by contacting an adept murder attorney in your Florida community today. 

Proving Second Degree Murder in Florida

Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder does not require proof of the defendant’s intent to kill. When prosecutors seek to prove second-degree murder, they must show that the defendant acted without regard for human life. 

Florida laws permit second-degree murder prosecution if the killing lacked premeditation or planning, but the defendant acted with enmity toward the victim, or the two had an ongoing interaction or relationship. 

Non-Premeditated Murder in the Commission of a Felony

Florida law assigns a charge of second-degree murder when the victim dies during the commission of one of the specified felony crimes. To establish second-degree murder, the prosecutor must prove that the victim died as a result of an act committed by a non-participant in the felony. 

If the defendant or another criminal participant in the felony caused the unlawful killing, state law requires a charge of first-degree murder rather than second-degree murder. Florida uses these laws to curb unintended deaths as a result of felonious activities.

Florida Second Degree Murder Laws

The statute that covers second-degree murder is Title XLVI. § 782.04, et seq. Florida statutes outline second-degree murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.”

Second Degree Murder Sentences and Penalties

Second-degree murder, when charged as a first-degree felony, could result in penalties of up to 30 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. A first-degree capital felony and the possibility of the death penalty could be the sentence for second-degree murder if the defendant commits murder while perpetrating (or attempting to perpetrate) other specified crimes. 

Second-degree murder is not the same as a second-degree felony. 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 second-degree murder, the offender will receive at least 16 3/4 years in prison without the chance for parole. If the defendant used a firearm to commit the murder, they would receive a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. The judge may also choose to combine those 16 3/4 years with one of the following penalties:

  • Life in prison
  • Life on probation
  • $10,000 in fines

Felony Murder Rule

According to Florida laws, felony murder is defined as killing another human being during the commission or attempted commission of certain felonies. If convicted, only two sentencing options are available:  life without the possibility of parole and the death penalty.

Being charged with attempted second-degree murder does not mean you’re guilty. Law enforcement officers make mistakes, and if a mistake was made in your case, a skillful defense attorney would use that to your advantage. 

Florida Second Degree Murder Defenses

Pretrial defenses and trial defenses can be used in second-degree defenses like any other criminal case.  However, specific defenses to the crime of second-degree murder include excusable homicide, justifiable homicide, and self-defense.

Excusable Homicide

The killing of a human being can be excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the following circumstances:

  • The killing is committed by accident while doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent
  • The killing occurs by misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation
  • The killing is committed by accident resulting from sudden combat, but a dangerous weapon is not used, and the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner

Justifiable Homicide

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if done while resisting an attempt by someone to kill you or to commit a felony against you. If you believe your murder case was justified, speak with a Florida homicide attorney for a free consultation today. 

Self Defense

Self-defense by law is the justified use of deadly force. Self-defense can be a defense to the crime of second-degree murder. You have the right to defend yourself according to Florida laws and statutes like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law offers specific instances where the law justifies self-defense. 

Contacting a Second Degree Murder Lawyer

Serious attempted second-degree murder charges can result in the death penalty. That’s why it’s essential to secure competent legal representation. The legal representation you choose will be crucial to your defense. 

Get a great start defending your case by contacting Attorney Rahul Parikh in Florida today. Attorney Parikh is a battle-tested Florida Criminal Defense Attorney & trial lawyer. Parikh Law, P.A. is dedicated to protecting the freedom, reputation, and constitutional rights of his clients. The law firm of Parikh Law, P.A. proudly serves the residents of Central Florida in all their criminal defense needs.