A homicide charge is always a serious accusation. While the charge should never be taken lightly, this is especially true in Florida. Under Florida law, a homicide conviction may be punishable by the death penalty. If you are convicted of homicide in Florida, the strength of your defense is a matter of life or death. Apart from your guilt or innocence, if you are facing a potential death penalty sentence, you have legal rights that must be protected.
Because of the high stakes inherent in death penalty cases, you should choose an experienced attorney to represent you. The strength of your defense can help you avoid a death penalty sentence. Additionally, homicide convictions involve lengthy prison sentences, a strong defense may influence the duration of your time in prison. An experienced legal team may devise the best possible defense strategy and advocate for your rights throughout your trial.
If you or someone you love has been charged with homicide in or around the St. Petersburg area, you should consult with a competent criminal defense attorney. Our team at the Khonsari Law Group is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the accused. Contact our firm at (727) 269-5300 for a free consultation. Whether you are incarcerated, released on bail, or need legal representation for a friend or family member our dedicated team is here to help.
About the Khonsari Law Group
The skilled legal team at the Khonsari Law Group has extensive experience defending clients accused of a wide variety of crimes. Former prosecutor, Rohom Khonsari, has comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of the Florida judicial system. His background enables him to better serve clients as they face criminal proceedings for homicide, and many other crimes. Of course, we cannot guarantee a specific outcome for your case.
The distinct circumstances of each case can influence a jury’s verdict. Nonetheless, our dedicated homicide attorneys promise to thoroughly evaluate your case to ensure we can build the best possible defense. In some instances, homicide charges may ultimately be dismissed. If dismissal is not attainable in your case, our attorneys may fight for a plea agreement with reduced penalties.
Homicide Charges in Florida
Under Florida law, individuals accused of causing the death of another person may face a variety of charges. The exact charges brought against you are ultimately determined by the prosecutor’s application of the law. Prosecutors evaluate the facts of each case and choose which charges they believe will most likely result in a conviction. Below we provide a broad overview of the different types of homicide in Florida.
First, let’s take a look at the justified use of deadly force. Under Florida law, extenuating circumstances might justify the use of deadly force. In Florida, deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting an attempted murder or any other felony. Additionally, deadly force may be justifiable when a person is protecting their property from a crime. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney can advise you of any possible defenses you may have.
Like many states, Florida classifies murder charges by degree, including first-, second-, and third-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most severe charge and necessitates the harshest penalties.
- First-degree murder most commonly refers to premeditated murder. Additionally, any homicide that occurs during the commission of another aggravated felony is classified as first-degree murder. For instance, a robbery, kidnapping, or act of sexual battery causing the death of another is considered murder in the first-degree. In these cases, prosecutors will often seek the death penalty. If not the death penalty, the prosecutor may suggest life in prison at sentencing.
- Second-degree murder applies when a person unlawfully kills another, but does so without any advanced planning. A second-degree murder conviction is also punishable by a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
- Third-degree murder is charged against individuals who kill another person accidentally, during the commission of lesser felony crimes. Third-degree murder may be punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Charges for manslaughter are reserved for homicides that cannot be categorized as murder. Manslaughter convictions are punishable by less severe penalties. Under Florida law, manslaughter is defined as “the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification.” Generally, manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, in some circumstances, manslaughter may be considered a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison. Circumstances warranting harsher penalties include:
- Negligence causing the death of an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Negligence causing the death of a child; or
- Negligence causing the death of a law enforcement officer, paramedic, firefighter, or an emergency medical technician (EMT).
Other Homicide Charges
Most homicide charges are classifed as either murder or manslaughter. However, Florida law provides additional classifications for special situations. For example, there are individual classifications for excusable homicide, vehicular homicide, vessel homicide, and assisted suicide.
- Excusable homicide includes accidental deaths that do not involve an unlawful act. In many states, excusable homicide is classified as involuntary manslaughter. Under Florida law, “heat-of-passion homicides” are classified as excusable. Heat-of-passion refers to a mental state provoked by fear, anger, or terror that results in homicide.
- Vehicular homicide refers to deaths resulting from a motor vehicle accident. A vehicular homicide conviction is typically a second-degree felony. However, drivers who flee the scene of the accident or fail to provide necessary aid may face more severe charges.
- Vessel homicide is a special category of homicides referring to deaths that occur on boats. Vessel homicide includes deaths involving vessels from canoes to large shipping barges. Negligent operation of a vessel that results in the death of another may justify a vessel homicide charge. Similar to vehicular homicide, vessel homicide is a second-degree felony. Vessel homicide, too, may be classified as a first-degree felony for failure to give information or render medical aid.
- Assisted suicide has recently become a highly debated topic across the nation. Due to an increase in the elderly population and instance of terminal disease, assisted suicide has become more frequent. In Florida, the law is clear—anyone who helps another person commit suicide has committed manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
Get the Legal Help You Need From an Experienced St. Petersburg Homicide Attorney
A conviction of murder or manslaughter will undoubtedly change the course of you and your family’s life. Homicide charges necessarily involve lengthy prison sentences. Or in the most severe cases, offenders will face the death penalty.
Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight to protect your rights. Contact the skilled legal team at the Khonsari Law Group online or at (727) 269-5300 to discuss your case. We are dedicated to devising the best potential defense strategies to protect your freedom.
Khonsari Law Group
150 2nd Ave N #970,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701