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Florida Statute Section 782.04(1)(a) - Degrees of Homicide in Florida

All homicide crimes in Florida involve the death of a person. Whether a killing is considered a punishable homicide under Florida law will be dependent on the facts of the situation. Some deaths may be justifiable or excusable under Florida law (such as self-defense and the defense of insanity), but most others are crimes that vary in degree and severity. Regardless of what type of homicide charges a person may be facing, no accused person should be facing such a significant criminal charge without the assistance of a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer who regularly handles homicide cases.

Understanding the Different Types of Homicide Under Florida Law

While all homicide charges under Florida law are unquestionably serious, such charges vary in degree, with some being more severe than others. Per Florida law, the following charges comprise of all homicides:

  • First-Degree Murder;
  • Second-Degree Murder;
  • Third-Degree Murder; and
  • Manslaughter.

Each homicide charge under Florida law establishes a set of requirements that must be satisfied for a jury to convict a person of the homicide.

First-Degree Murder

Under Florida Statute Section 782.04(1)(a), murder is broadly defined as the “unlawful killing of a human being.” The degree of murder is based on how murder is carried out. Florida law states that homicide is a first-degree murder when the killing was carried out with intent and prior thought or planning, often referred to as “premeditation.”

A homicide may also be considered first-degree murder if a killing was committed during the course of committing another crime including, among others, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, and aggravated stalking. As such, a person may face first-degree murder charges for the death of another person who was killed during the course of an ongoing crime even though the accused person neither intended nor planned to kill another person. A person convicted of first-degree murder under Florida law faces a capital felony, which results in a maximum of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and in rare cases, a convicted person may face the death penalty.

Second-Degree Murder

Homicide is a second-degree murder when a killing is “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.” As such, neither intent nor premeditation is required to satisfy the definition of second-degree murder under Florida law. If convicted of second-degree murder, the convicted person faces a first-degree felony, which results in a jail sentence of up to life as well as a fine of $10,000.

Third-Degree Murder

Homicide is a third-degree murder when a person is unintentionally killed in the course of the commission of another felony, including, among others, burglary, kidnapping, trafficking, arson, aggravated child abuse, carjacking, and aggravated fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury or death. A person convicted of second-degree murder under Florida law faces a second-degree felony which results in jail time of up to fifteen (15) years and a fine of up to $10,000.


Under Florida Statute Section 782.07(1), manslaughter is defined as the “killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification,” and “in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder.” Although not defined by statute, manslaughter is considered voluntary when a killing happens in the heat of the moment without planning. Manslaughter is considered involuntary when a killing happens as a result of recklessness or negligence. If convicted of manslaughter under Florida law, a convicted person faces a second-degree felony which results in jail time of up to fifteen years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defending Homicide Charges in Florida Alongside a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney

Many individuals facing homicide charges in Florida have valid defenses that, if properly presented in court, will help to either dismiss pending homicide charges or at least reduce the severity of the homicide charges to a criminal offense that better fits the conduct at issue. Unfortunately, many Floridians have been charged and convicted of homicide charges without a strong defense attorney to present the defendant’s case to a jury adequately. A jury can only make a decision based on the facts presented in court through documents and witness testimony. A qualified Florida Criminal Defense Attorney with extensive experience in the courtroom will make every effort and utilize every resource to ensure his or her client has the best chance of convincing a jury that a homicide conviction is not warranted.

Time is always of the essence when facing any criminal charge, especially homicide charges. In some cases, a person may know he or she is suspected of killing another person but has not yet been brought in for questioning or charged with any crime. Any person who believes he or she may be a person of interest in a homicide case must speak with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. Because the earliest stages of a criminal matter are often the most critical, having an attorney BEFORE law enforcement officials can begin to question a suspect is essential to the protection of an accused person’s constitutional rights.

Protect Your Rights – Contact the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today

If you are facing a homicide charge – whether it be a murder or manslaughter charge – you must act quickly to retain a qualified Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer. Because homicide charges are the most serious of any criminal charge in Florida, having the right attorney is critical to a successful defense in court. The Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law serve the entire state, protecting the rights of clients facing felonies that can leave them in jail for life. With more than 150 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Musca Law know what to expect when facing homicide charges under Florida law. To learn how Musca Law may be able to help you, contact our office 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.

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