In Florida, murder is a homicide that was committed on purpose with malicious intent. It is classified into one of two degrees, depending on the circumstances of the case. Our Florida homicide defense attorney explains what you need to know about the crime of murder and what possible defenses may be used in a case.
Florida Murder Defenses
The defense an attorney decides to use for a client charged with murder will depend on what occurred during the incident that resulted in homicide. Since a murder conviction can result in life in prison or even the death penalty, it is important to use an attorney who will fight for your rights and will work to find a defense that can dismiss or reduce the charge or bring about a not guilty verdict at trial.
Some common murder defenses that can be used in Florida to dismiss or dispute the charges of the crime include:
- Self-defense. In Florida, the Stand Your Ground defense can be used in cases where the accused acted in self-defense. There must be sufficient evidence to prove that the accused was defending himself against another person during an attack where they felt threatened for their life.
- Defending another person. If the defendant was protecting another person who was in danger of death due to another person, this could be used as a defense.
- Unlawful evidence. If evidence was obtained illegally by law enforcement, your lawyer will move to have the evidence excluded from the trial.
- Lack of evidence. If there is a lack of evidence to prove that the defendant committed murder, it could create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors, which would prevent them from finding the defendant guilty.
- Strong alibi. If a lawyer can prove that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime and there is strong evidence to support the alibi, this can be used as a defense.
- Mistaken identity. If it can be proven that the defendant was wrongly accused due to a mistaken identity and that another person committed the crime, this is a possible defense since it can create doubt.
- Mental capacity. If it is proven that the accused was not in the required state of mind to commit intentional, premeditated murder due to mental illness, intoxication, head injury, or trauma, this can be used as a defense since the person was mentally incompetent.
In addition, murder may be considered excusable or justifiable and could be dismissed by the court for the following reasons:
- Excusable homicide. A murder may be considered an excusable homicide if the death was accidental and there is no evidence of intent or if the defendant was acting with lawful intent.
- Justifiable homicide. A murder may be justifiable if the accused believed that they or another person were in imminent danger of being killed during a home invasion or other act of violence.
Penalties for Murder in Florida
In Florida, the potential penalties for murder depend on what degree of crime you are convicted of. The penalties for murder include:
- First-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most serious charge and is given if there is proof that the killing was deliberate and intentional. The possible penalties for first-degree murder are either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Second-degree murder. A second-degree murder charge is given if the crime was in the heat of passion or if it showed reckless disregard for another person’s life. There must be proof that it was not intentional or deliberate. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is a life sentence. The minimum sentence is sixteen and three-quarters years in prison without the chance at parole and 25 years if you used a firearm to commit the crime.
- Third-degree murder. A conviction of third-degree murder is given if the killing occurred while committing a felony and was unintentional. The accused may have tried to harm the other person, but the intent was not to kill them. The penalty for third-degree murder is 10 to 15 years in prison.
Contact a Florida Homicide Attorney
If you have been arrested and are facing charges of murder in Florida, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale homicide attorney to help with your case. To set up a free consultation with the Law Offices of Robert David Malove, contact us online or by calling our office at 954-861-0384. For your convenience, payment plans are available.