Murder is the most serious criminal charge you can sustain in the State of Florida, and the possible penalties upon conviction include long periods of incarceration and heavy fines. These penalties may be lessened considerably if you are able to plead your murder charge(s) down to a manslaughter charge.
Categories of Murder under Florida Law
If the State alleges that you committed a premeditated murder, a felony murder, or a homicide that involves the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, you could be charged with first-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most serious murder charge under Florida law. The potential penalty upon conviction for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Second-degree murder is one step down from first-degree murder because it is not planned or premeditated. In order to prove a second-degree murder, the prosecution must show that the defendant had a “depraved heart” or that he or she acted with reckless disregard for human life. A person who is convicted of second-degree murder may be sentenced up to life in prison.
Categories of Manslaughter Under Florida Law
The penalties associated with manslaughter convictions are much lower than for murder convictions. Manslaughter charges normally fall into one of the following categories:
- Voluntary manslaughter—where someone is killed unintentionally while the perpetrator is in the ‘heat of passion’ or as the perpetrator is experiencing an ‘intense emotional response’
- Involuntary manslaughter—where someone is killed without intent
- Vehicular homicide—where someone kills another person by operating a car in a reckless manner
Under Florida law, manslaughter charges are second-degree felonies, and the defendant could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter in the State of Florida, it is essential you seek the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer may be able to obtain a plea deal with the prosecution and have your charge(s) reduced from murder to manslaughter.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense attorney, please call Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online.