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Jacksonville Murder Defense Attorneys

Fighting Serious Homicide Charges

In Florida, if a person's accused of unlawfully taking the life of another, they could be charged with first and second degree murder or manslaughter. What determines the degree includes the specific conduct involved, whether the offense was planned, the person's state of mind, and whether the accused was the one who caused the death of the other. First-degree murder involves acts considered the most severe. As such, it is the highest of the three degrees. Still, any allegation of murder is serious, and a conviction can result in years to life in prison. In some cases, the prosecutor may even seek the death penalty.

If you're facing charges, get in touch with our Jacksonville murder defense lawyers as soon as possible. Building an aggressive legal strategy in these complex matters requires extensive preparation. At Monroe & King, P.A., we are ready to do the hard work necessary to tell your side of the story. Our team purposely takes a small caseload, allowing us to provide the focused and personalized representation our clients need. When you choose us, you will have a loyal advocate on your side zealously fighting to protect your rights and freedom.

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To get started on your defense, call us at (904) 474-3115 or submit an online contact form. We offer a complimentary case review.

Florida's Murder Law

Florida Statute 782.04 enumerates the elements for each degree of murder. Generally, first and second murder involve the unlawful killing of another person. However, each contains conduct specific to each offense. Therefore, we will discuss Florida's murder law by separating the crimes into their own sections.

First-Degree Murder

In Florida, a person may be charged with first-degree murder if they allegedly caused someone else's death through pre-planning, while committing or attempting to commit a specified felony, or through the distribution of a controlled substance.

Premeditated Murder

For the prosecution to obtain a first-degree premeditated murder conviction, they must prove that the defendant:

  • Killed another person,
  • While involved in a criminal act, and
  • They consciously decided to cause the other's death. The law does not explicitly state how much time must pass between the decision and the actual act. However, the duration must have been such that it shows the defendant thought about their future actions.

First-Degree Felony Murder

The prosecutor can obtain a conviction for first-degree felony murder if they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • Killed another person,
  • While they were committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing the scene after committing a specified felony, and
  • They were the one who caused the other's death.

Premeditation is not an element of this offense.

Controlled Substances Murder

The prosecutor must prove the following to obtain a first-degree controlled substances conviction:

  • Another person died,
  • The proximate cause of their death was a specified controlled substance, and
  • The defendant unlawfully distributed the substance to the victim.

Second-Degree Murder

A person may be charged with second-degree murder in two ways: They caused another's death without pre-planning, or someone else caused the other's death while the person was engaged in a felony.

Murder Occurring from a Depraved Mind

To obtain a conviction for this offense, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Killed another;
  • While committing a criminal act dangerous to others;
  • The conduct demonstrated that the defendant had a depraved mind at the time of the offense,
    • A "depraved mind" means that a reasonable person would have known the consequences of their actions, and
    • The conduct arose out of ill will or evil intent; and
  • The conduct showed disregard for human life.

Second-Degree Felony Murder

This offense occurs when:

  • A person is committing, attempting to commit, or leaving the scene after committing a specified felony,
  • During the offense, another individual is killed,
  • The person who caused the death of the other was not engaged in the felony crime.

Manslaughter

While severe, this offense is considered the least serious type of murder in terms of penalties. The elements are similar to those of first-degree felony murder, only the felony crime the defendant was engaged in was one other than those specified for first-degree felony murder.

At Monroe & King, P.A., our Jacksonville murder defense attorneys will review every detail of your case to identify weaknesses in proof and defenses that can be raised to cast doubt on the prosecutor's case.

The Penalties for Murder in Florida

The punishments a court can impose upon a murder conviction are severe.

Below are the potential penalties for each degree of murder in Florida:

  • First-degree murder (capital felony):
    • Life imprisonment, or
    • Death sentence

If the prosecutor is pursuing the death penalty, they must state their intent within 45 days of the defendant's arraignment. At a separate sentencing hearing, they must prove that one or more aggravating factors warrant this sentence. For the death penalty to be imposed, the jury must unanimously agree at least one aggravating factor was present.

  • Second-degree murder (first-degree felony):
    • Life imprisonment, or
    • Up to 30 years' imprisonment, and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Manslaughter (second-degree felony):
    • Up to 15 years in prison and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines

We recognize the ramifications a conviction can have on your life. That is why our murder defense lawyers in Jacksonville will do what it takes to work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf, seeking to minimize or avoid the adverse consequences.

Contact Monroe & King, P.A. Today

Our team cares about the people we help and are dedicated to providing the compassionate yet aggressive representation they need.

Learn more about your legal options by calling our Jacksonville murder defense attorneys at (904) 474-3115 or filling out an online contact form.

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