Defensing Against Homicide Charges in the State of Florida
Defending a homicide case in Florida is extraordinarily complex. Factual, legal, and evidentiary issues are often highly detailed and intricate. The consequences are significant on both sides. For the prosecution, including the law enforcement investigators, they want to punish the person whom they claim ended another’s life. The state attorney’s office could seek the death penalty in some cases, and they do not want to lose. Not only is pride in the way, but the prosecution wants to make sure that the person who committed the crime is put behind bars, which serves the dual goal of punishment and ensuring the safety of the public. Therefore, state attorneys’ offices assign the best and brightest prosecutors to the case, who join the most experienced and accomplished homicide and major crime detectives in Florida to bring the accused to justice.
The stakes for an attorney defending a murder case in Florida are astronomically high. The defendant stands to lose everything upon a conviction. He or she could be sent to prison for the remainder of their lives or strapped to a gurney and injected with drugs that stop their hearts. Even if the attorney skillfully argues for a conviction for a lesser-included offense like a second degree or third-degree homicide, the offender will receive a prison sentence that could last for decades.
When representing a client charged with murder, experience matters above all. At Musca Law, our Florida Homicide Defense Attorneys have the experience necessary to defend a homicide charge. Our Florida Murder Defense Attorneys have successfully defended cases across Florida. We are guided by the principles of due process and the right to a fair trial ensconced in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. We fight vigorously and diligently to ensure that all of our clients receive a fair trial, enjoy the presumption of innocence, and hold the government to its proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our lawyers know the gravity of the situation, and we vow to protect your rights at every step in the process.
First Degree Murder in Florida
Florida prosecutors and law enforcement officers charge the most serious crime for which they possess probable cause. Therefore, the investigators will charge the accused with first-degree murder if the evidence supports that charge. Florida Statutes §782.04 defines murder in the first degree as a deliberate and premeditated killing. Florida also adheres to the felony murder rule. Felony murder was murder in the first degree when the killing happened during the commission of any of the felonies listed, such as arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, human trafficking, and stalking, to name a few. Additionally, the state may charge the accused with first-degree murder if the person is older than seventeen (17) and was engaged in the distribution of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.
First-degree murder is a capital felony. Under §775.082 of the Florida Statutes, the prosecution can seek the death penalty. If the result of the death penalty procedure described in §921.141 results in a recommendation of a life sentence rather than death, then the offender shall be committed to the state prison during and for his or her natural life without allowance for early release. The prosecution has 45 days after the defendant’s arraignment to declare whether the government will ask for the death penalty or will pursue a life sentence.
A person under eighteen years-of-age cannot receive the death penalty. However, the person could be committed for life, if deemed appropriate. If not, then the offender could receive a sentence not to exceed 40 years. The sentence must be reviewed, and the offender could be granted early release.
Second-Degree Murder in Florida
Second-degree murder, as defined by §782.04(3) and (4), is a killing that is mitigated because the deed was committed in the heat of passion, or the killing happened while the actor was committing an act that showed a reckless disregard for human life. In the first instance, second-degree murder could be the heat of passion crime, such as catching a spouse in the arms of another, because there is no deliberate premeditation. Alternatively, second-degree murder could be charged when the accused kills another while acting in a way that endangers the life of others.
Second-degree murder in Florida is a first-degree felony, punishable by any number of years, including life in prison. However, a killing committed in the heat of passion without any planning is voluntary manslaughter, as provided by §782.07 of the Florida Statutes. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida that carries a maximum penalty of fifteen years in prison.
Third-Degree Murder in Florida
Third-degree murder in Florida is a killing that happens unintentionally while the person is committing or trying to commit an enumerated felony and committed in such a way that shows there was no intent or design to kill another.
Third-degree murder is a second-degree felony in Florida. The maximum penalty for third-degree murder is fifteen years in the state’s prison.
Statutory Defenses to Murder in Florida
In Florida, using deadly force is justified under §782.02 of the Florida Statutes when the person who committed the killing was defending himself/herself or another from an attempted murder or during the commission of another felony in the home of the person who killed in self-defense. This is an absolute defense that could be asserted at trial or used to avoid charges.
Florida also recognizes excusable homicide. Under §782.03 of the Florida Statutes, excusable homicide occurs when a death happens accidentally and in the absence of the commission of an unlawful act. Excusable homicide also occurs when the person acted in the heat of passion, reasonable and sudden provocation, or mutual combat when no dangerous weapon was used, and the killing was not in any way committed brutally.
Successful Strategies to Defend Murder Charges in Florida
Mounting a successful defense to murder chances in Florida begins with a thorough analysis of the evidence obtained by the prosecution. Additionally, the defense must exhaustively investigate the case as well. A synthesis of the prosecution’s evidence and the defendant’s evidence will provide a strategy or strategies to defend the case.
The proliferation of digital technology complicates the case for both sides. Expert witnesses are needed to explain the significance of cell site data, call detail reports, and extraction analysis of smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Additional experts could be called by either party to give an opinion or to rebut an opinion about cell data, pathology reports, the mental status of the accused, fingerprint analysis, or DNA analysis.
A seasoned murder defense attorney will examine the potential for constitutional violations committed by the investigators during their investigation. Errors made by the government seizing evidence, talking with the accused, interrogating witnesses, and performing identification procedures could violate the rights of the accused. Suppression of the evidence could be appropriate in many circumstances.
At trial, the defense has many options depending on the state of the evidence. The defense could argue “reasonable doubt” or call witnesses to give the accused an alibi. Only Florida Homicide Defense Lawyers, who have decades of experience and who are dedicated to protecting their clients’ rights, can devise a strategy that gives the accused the best chance to beat the charge.
Musca Law: Dedicated to Protecting Our Clients´ Legal Rights
Call Musca Law’s Florida Defense Lawyers at (888) 484-5057 now to protect your freedom if you have been charged with homicide in Florida or are suspicion for homicide in Florida. Let our experience, knowledge, and track record of success go to work for you.