Although murder and manslaughter are often used as interchangeable terms, they do in fact have a few key differences. When a person is facing murder charges, the penalties could be more severe than charges for manslaughter, and the intentions of the alleged killer might have been different. Homicide is an all-encompassing term that includes charges for both murder and manslaughter, but the differences between these crimes could make a huge difference if convicted.
If you were arrested for homicide in Florida, make sure you understand how murder and manslaughter differ.
Murder Charges in Florida
In Florida, murder charges can either be first-degree or second-degree, either of which is punished more severely than manslaughter charges. First-degree murder is usually an intentional, premeditated killing, whereas a second-degree murder charge is typically not premeditated. When a violent act is not premeditated, it is described as having occurred “in the heat of passion.” However, premeditation does not need to apply specifically to the murder, nor does the premeditation need to be long term. So, even if the plan to commit murder was short-term, or if the person intended to kill one person but killed another, such a crime could still be charged as first-degree murder.
A murder might also be classified as first-degree if it is a felony murder. A felony murder occurs when someone is killed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony. In certain situations, drug dealers could also be charged with first-degree murder if the person they sold drugs to dies of an overdose.
Manslaughter Charges in Florida
In short, manslaughter is a lesser degree of murder by Florida law. It can be categorized as either voluntary or involuntary, depending on whether or not the alleged killer planned the homicide or if it occurred in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter, the lowest homicide charge, can result from any unintentional killing that came about because of the alleged killer’s recklessness or negligence. In these situations, the alleged killer had no intention of killing anyone but acted in a way that endangered someone else’s life, resulting in that person’s death.
For a charge to be lowered to voluntary manslaughter rather than murder, there is usually some more socially acceptable reason for the violent act. For example, perhaps the alleged killer was provoked or acted based on an emotional response. People can also be found guilty of manslaughter as the result of DUI.
Not only are murder charges more serious than manslaughter charges, but being charged with murder usually implies intent. Whether the killing was premeditated or not, a person is charged with murder intentionally killed another.
If you or someone you love is facing homicide charges in Florida, it is essential that you seek legal protection immediately. Murder and manslaughter charges can result in hefty fines, imprisonment, and probation. In order to protect your rights and freedom, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for legal support.
Contact Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. to get started on your criminal defense case today.