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Difference Between Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter in Florida (2023)

Prya Murad Law, PLLC

Within the Florida legal system, there are multiple ways to be charged in connection with the death of another person. Words like homicide, murder, and manslaughter are often used interchangeably by the general public, but there are key differences between them. If you are facing any of these charges, it is vital to understand what each charge means and how they are distinguished.

What Is Homicide?

The degrees of homicide are considered the most serious, as they involve the death of another human being. To properly defend against a homicide charge, you must first understand what the term means and its implications in the legal process.

Homicide is defined in F.S. § 782 as the killing of one human being by another. A homicide charge can be either lawful or unlawful. Lawful homicides classified as either justified or excusable should not result in an arrest or charges.

  • Justified HomicideThis type of homicide results when the killing occurs as an act of self-defense during an attack that involves deadly force. This classification will apply in situations where the death occurred while you were defending another person (especially a person of a protected class), while you were resisting or fighting back during an attack, while the other person was attempting to murder you, or while the decedent was attempting to commit a felony inside your dwelling.
  • Excusable HomicideThis type of homicide classification is used when the killing was committed by someone who is unable to understand the consequences of their actions or differentiate between right and wrong. In other words, the killing was committed by someone deemed legally insane. This type of homicide may be found if the death occurred due to an accident or misfortune while the defendant engaged in ordinary, usual caution and without unlawful intent. Excusable homicide can also apply when it occurred due to extreme provocation from the victim, there was no unlawful intent or use of a deadly weapon, or it did not happen in a cruel or unusual manner.

If these conditions can be presented early in your case, it may prevent any charges from being filed. For this reason, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney right away can have significant effects, even if you have not been arrested yet.

What Is Manslaughter?

The manslaughter charge is used when the killing is unlawful but without malice. This means the accused did not intend to harm or kill the victim, nor was there a reckless disregard for human life. There are two types:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter: If the killing resulted from reckless conduct or negligence but without intent to kill, the applicable charge is involuntary manslaughter. Intent to kill is the difference between involuntary manslaughter and the more severe crime of second-degree murder.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: If the death occurs because the accused is provoked and killed while in the heat of passion that resulted from that provocation, the crime is voluntary manslaughter. It is also referred to as a heat of passion crime, as there was no time for the person to think rationally.

How Is Murder Defined in Florida?

According to Florida state law, murder is deliberate killing that cannot be legally justified and is committed with malice of another human. Malice aforethought is shown to exist with proving intention to kill without legal excuse, intending to cause serious harm that resulted in the victim’s death and displaying reckless disregard for life that caused the victim’s death. There are two forms of murder charges per Florida criminal law:

  • First-Degree Murder: This type of murder charge is the most serious of the homicide categories and can be committed in a few different ways in Florida. Felony murder occurs when the victim is killed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony. Premeditated murder is enacted willfully and deliberately, meaning it was planned and done with the intent to kill. The charge of homicides committed during specified drug dealing offenses can potentially be applied to a drug distributor or dealer if a person they supplied drugs to dies from an overdose.
  • Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder is similar to first-degree in that it requires that the accused acted without regard for human life and in a depraved manner with the intent to kill, but it lacks the premeditation requirement.

FAQs About Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter in Florida

What Is the Difference Between Manslaughter and Murder in Florida?

Both manslaughter and murder are forms of homicide because they result in another person’s death. They differ in the intent behind the crime. Manslaughter charges apply when the death occurred due to the accused’s actions, but the death was not intentional. Murder charges apply if the accused intended to kill the victim.

What Is the Punishment for Manslaughter in Florida?

Manslaughter is considered a second-degree or a first-degree felony, depending on the factors of the case. Aggravating factors that can increase the severity of the punishment are tied to the victim and apply when the victim is elderly, a minor, a disabled adult, or a first responder. The punishment is a $10,000 fine and a 15- or 30-year maximum prison sentence.

What Is the Punishment for Murder in Florida?

Murder is considered a second-degree, a first-degree, or a capital felony in Florida, depending on the circumstances of the case. Factors that can affect the severity of the charge are tied to how the crime was committed and the specific intent of the accused. The punishment depends on the degree. For first- and second-degree felonies, a $10,000 fine and a 15- or 30-year maximum prison sentence are given. A capital felony carries a penalty of life imprisonment or death.

What Are the Types of Homicide in Florida?

Many different crimes can potentially be committed when a person causes the death of another, but there are two main charges: manslaughter and murder. The distinguishing factor between these two types of charges is the intent behind the action. The more serious crime of murder requires the prosecutors to prove intent to kill.

Defending Against Homicide Charges

The penalties for a manslaughter or murder conviction are grave and will negatively affect every aspect of your life. Contacting Prya Murad Law should be your first action if you believe you are a person of suspicion for another’s death. Your defense will benefit from every second our skilled team is on your case.

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