Second-Degree Murder Charges in Florida

Second degree murder in Florida

In Florida, a person may be charged with different degrees of murder. The courts determine the degree of murder based on the circumstances in which the person was killed and the mental state of the murderer at the time of the killing. Second-degree murder is a serious offense subject to severe criminal penalties. In contrast with first-degree murder, second-degree murder is not premeditated. An individual premeditates a crime by considering it before they commit the act.

Florida law defines second-degree murder as “murder with a depraved mind” or “accomplice felony murder.” To convict a person of second-degree murder, the prosecution must prove that the individual acted impulsively but understood the consequences of their actions.

Facing murder charges is an extremely stressful situation that can drastically alter your life. In the Orlando area, there is somewhere you can turn for help—The Umansky Law Firm. Our team of law experts will help you understand the criminal process and work to build a viable defense strategy for your case that stands up in court.

What Constitutes Second-Degree Murder?

According to Florida Statute 782.04(2), an individual can be charged with second-degree murder if a prosecutor can show the defendant acted with a depraved mind and without regard for human life. A defendant can also be charged with accomplice felony murder. The two categories of murder are outlined in detail within the law.

Murder with a Depraved Mind

Murder with a depraved mind is a murder committed without premeditation. For a person to be found guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove that they acted without regard for human life and committed murder by an act immediately dangerous to another person. Murder with a depraved mind is distinct from premeditated first-degree murder because it does not involve premeditation or an intent to kill.

Accomplice Felony Murder

This category of second-degree murder is when a person is an accomplice to another individual who kills someone while in the act of committing a felony, such as a burglary or home-invasion robbery. To charge and convict someone of accomplice felony murder, it is not necessary to prove the defendant intended to kill their victim.

Examples of felonies include:

  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Arson
  • Carjacking
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual battery
  • Terrorism

The penalties for each of these offenses are determined by the circumstances surrounding the case. A knowledgeable defense attorney will educate anyone charged with second-degree murder on the penalties they face if convicted of the offense.

Understanding the Penalties for Second-Degree Murder in Florida

According to Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, second-degree murder is one of the most serious offenses, which ranks at Level 10, the highest level of offense score possible. Many people are misguided by categorizing a second-degree murder, as the phrase “second-degree” leads them to think that the crime is a second-degree felony. However, that is not so. Second-degree murder is considered a first-degree felony.

The penalties for second-degree murder in Florida are:

  • Minimum sentence of incarceration for 16 ¾ years
  • Maximum sentence of life in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Lifelong probation

If a person is convicted of multiple offenses or committed the crime of second-degree murder with a firearm, the penalties become more severe. A person who commits second-degree murder with a firearm is subject to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

If you’re facing charges for second-degree murder, it’s essential to obtain legal counsel as quickly as possible.

Potential Defense Strategies for Second-Degree Murder

There are multiple defense strategies an experienced law team can use to mitigate second-degree murder charges. The most common defense strategies for second-degree murder include:

  • Excusable homicide
  • Justifiable homicide
  • Self-defense

Excusable homicide occurs when a homicide is deemed lawful under any of the following circumstances:

  • When the murder is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any legitimate act by legal means with ordinary caution and without any criminal intent
  • When the murder occurs by accident in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation
  • When the murder is committed by accident caused by sudden combat, a dangerous weapon is not used, and the killing is not done cruelly.

Justifiable homicide is when homicide is committed while someone is trying to kill you or commit a felony against you. Self-defense, also known as justified use of deadly force, may also be a viable defense strategy to second-degree murder.

When discussing defense strategies with your attorney, it’s crucial to provide them with all the pertinent information surrounding your case to develop a robust defense strategy for your charges.

Consult Our Knowledgeable Orlando Criminal Defense Team

At The Umansky Law Firm, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. We fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients and build credible defense strategies. With over 100 years of combined experience and attorneys who are participants in the Florida Justice Association, you can confide in our dedication to your court outcome and freedom.

Our criminal defense team includes former prosecutors who have previously tried alleged offenders, so we understand the tactics used by the state to garner a conviction. We frequently apply that knowledge to help our clients in every way possible, whether that involves participating in early negotiation for pre-trial diversion or building an impenetrable defense for trial.

To speak with a seasoned criminal defense attorney about your issue, schedule a free case evaluation today by completing a contact form or call (407) 228-3838.