Murder


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people defend against Murder allegations.

There is nothing more serious than being charged with murder.  The allegation alone is enough to convince most people that you are guilty.  The potential consequences of a conviction are catastrophic.  The partners at SLG Law have experience handling complicated murder cases from both the prosecution and defense perspective.  We've seen how murder investigations and know what common mistakes law enforcement makes when conducting their investigations.  We know how the investigation is supposed to be performed and will be able to expose mistakes, omissions, and shortcuts.  If you or a loved one is under investigation or have been arrested for murder, call us to discuss your case.
What is Murder?

Murder is different than homicide.  Homicide is the killing of another human being.  It may or may not be a crime.  For example, a police officer who lawfully kills a person in the line of duty has committed a homicide, but not a murder.  Murder is also different than manslaughter, with the difference being intent.  In Florida, murder is broken up into three different degrees, with First Degree Murder being the most serious, followed by Second Degree Murder, and then Third Degree Murder. 

What is First Degree Murder (Capital Murder)?

First Degree Murder is defined in Florida Statute Section 782.04(1)(a).  There are two ways to prove First Degree Murder.  The first is Premeditated Murder.  The second is Felony Murder. 

First Degree Premeditated Murder
To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove:
  • The victim is dead, and
  • the death was caused by the criminal act of the person charged, and
  • there was a premeditated killing of the victim. 

"Premeditated" means consciously deciding to kill.  The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing.  The amount of time required for premeditation must be enough for the person to reflect on the decision.  However, the premeditation can occur immediately before the killing. 


First Degree Felony Murder
To prove the crime of First Degree Felony Murder, the State must prove:
  • The victim is dead, and
  • while engaged in the attempt to commit a qualifying felony, you or your accomplice caused the death of the victim, or
  • while engaged in the attempt to commit a qualifying felony, you or your accomplice caused the death of the victim, or
  • while escaping from the immediate scene after committing, attempting to commit, a qualifying felony, you or your accomplice caused the death of the victim, and
  • you were the person who actually killed the victim, or
  • the victim was killed by a person other than you, but both you and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of the qualifying felony.  
    Qualifying Felonies for First Degree Felony Murder

    Trafficking under Fla. Stat. S. 893.135(1)
    Arson
    Sexual Battery
    Robbery
    Burglary
    Kidnapping
    Escape
    Aggravated Child Abuse
    Aggravated Abuse of an Elderly Person
    Aggravated Abuse of a Disabled Adult
    Aircraft Piracy
    Unlawful Throwing, Placing, or Discharging of Destructive Device or Bomb
    Carjacking
    Home-invasion Robbery
    Aggravated Stalking
    Murder of Another Human Being
    Resisting an Officer With Violence
    Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding With Serious Bodily Injury or Death
    Felony Act of Terrorism
    Felony Which Resulted from Distribution of Controlled Substance by person 18 years or Older and Drug is Proximate Cause of Death

    Example - A common example of Felony Murder is where you agree to rob a bank with three friends.  If one of the friends shoots and kills the bank teller, you could be convicted of felony murder even though you did not participate in the actual killing and even if you had no idea your friend was going to kill anyone.  

What is Second Degree Murder?

Second Degree Murder is defined in Florida Statute Section 782.04(2).  To prove Second Degree Murder, the State must prove:
  • The victim is dead, and
  • the death was cased by your criminal act, and
  • there was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

Imminently dangerous and depraved mind

An act is "imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind" if it is an act or series of acts that:
  • a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and 
  • is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
  • is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

Example - A common example of Second Degree Murder is firing into a house with disregard as to whether anybody is in the house or will be hit inside the house, but it so happens that someone is randomly hit and killed.


What is Second Degree Felony Murder?

Second Degree Felony Murder is defined in Florida Statute Section 782.04(4).  To prove Second Degree Felony Murder, the State must prove:
  • The victim is dead, and
  • you were not the person who actually killed the victim, but you did commit or did knowingly aid, abet, counsel, hire, or otherwise procure the commission of a qualifying felony, and
  •  the victim's death was caused during and was a consequence of the attempted commission of the qualifying felony, or
  • the victim's death was caused during and was a consequence of the attempted commission of the qualifying felony, or
  • the victim's death was caused during and was a consequence of the escape from the immediate scene of the qualifying felony or attempt to commit the qualifying felony, and
  • The person who actually killed the victim was not involved in the commission or the attempt to commit the qualifying felony.

Qualifying Felonies for Second Degree Felony Murder

Trafficking under Fla. Stat. S. 893.135(1)
Arson
Sexual Battery
Robbery
Burglary
Kidnapping
Escape
Aggravated Child Abuse
Aggravated Abuse of an Elderly Person
Aggravated Abuse of a Disabled Adult
Aircraft Piracy
Unlawful Throwing, Placing, or Discharging of Destructive Device or Bomb
Carjacking
Home-invasion Robbery
Aggravated Stalking
Murder of Another Human Being
Resisting an Officer With Violence
Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding With Serious Bodily Injury or Death
Felony Act of Terrorism
Felony Which Resulted from Distribution of Controlled Substance by person 18 years or Older and Drug is Proximate Cause of Death


What is Third Degree Felony Murder?

Third Degree Felony Murder is a rarely used statute that is defined in Florida Statute Section 782.04(4).  To prove Third Degree Felony Murder, the State must prove:
  • The victim is dead, and
  • While engaged in the commission of a felony, you or an accomplice caused the death of the victim, or
  • while engaged in the attempt to commit a felony, you or your accomplice caused the death of the victim, or
  • while escaping from the immediate scene after committing or attempting to commit a felony, you or your accomplice caused the death of a victim, and
  • You were the person who actually killed the victim, or
  • the victim was killed by a person other than you; but both you and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of the crime

*   The underlying felony required for third degree felony murder is any felony that is not a "qualifying felony" listed above under first degree felony murder and second degree felony murder. 


What are the potential sentences for a Murder convictions?

First Degree Premeditated Murder (Capital Murder)
Mandatory life or Death Penalty

First Degree Felony Murder (Capital Murder)
Mandatory life or Death Penalty

Second Degree Murder
Up to life in prison

Second Degree Felony Murder
Up to life in prison

Third Degree Felony Murder
Up to 15 years in prison

What are the possible defenses to Murder allegations?

A murder case is one of the most serious and complex case an attorney can handle.  A proper defense may take a year or more and hundreds of hours of investigation, research, litigation, and other legal work.  Some common defenses to murder allegations are self defense (justifiable use of deadly force) and excusable homicide (when committed by accident or misfortune).  Another common defense to murder allegations is that the State has charged the wrong person.  Law enforcement often base arrests on non-credible witnesses, circumstantial evidence, or faulty witness identifications.  Every case is unique.  Call us to discuss the possible defenses in your case.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for or accused of
Murder,

Call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon Now!

904-642-3332 (Jacksonville)
or
407-228-2019
(Orlando). 



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