Tampa Murder Lawyer
Defense of Murder and Homicide Charges
Murder and homicide top the list of the most serious offenses one can be charged with. As a capital offense, a conviction of murder in the first degree carries two possible sentences – life without parole or the death penalty. As with other criminal offenses, the crime of murder is defined in Florida law, and specific elements must be proven by the state in order to secure a conviction. Through intensive investigation and discovery, Tampa murder lawyer Donald C. Barrett builds a strong case to challenge the state’s murder charges. Murder charges are indeed quite serious, which make it all the more important to retain an experienced defense lawyer to represent you. Learn more about Florida homicide laws below, and contact Donald C. Barrett, P.A. for defense of murder charges in Tampa.
Murder and Homicide under Florida law
Murder as defined under Florida law can be charged as first, second or third degree murder, depending upon the facts which can be proven by the state, including the defendant’s intent or state of mind.
First degree murder – Charges of first degree murder are reserved for premediated killings or when a death occurs during the commission of certain specified felonies. First degree murder is a capital felony, meaning the sentence for a convicted offender is either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Second degree murder – A homicide committed without premeditation by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life may be charged as second degree murder. Second degree murder is a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison.
Third degree murder – The unlawful killing of a person while engaged in certain felony offenses may constitute third degree murder. Third degree murder is a second-degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison.
A key element that must be proven in many murder cases is the element of intent – whether the killing was premeditated (malice aforethought) or showed a disregard for human life (depraved mind). If the state cannot prove that the defendant had the requisite intent, they should not be able to convict the individual of the crime charged. However, a person can still be convicted of a “lesser included offense,” so it is important to provide a strong, aggressive defense and seek dismissal or reduction of charges wherever appropriate.
The Felony Murder Rule
It is not necessary to prove someone acted with the intent to kill in order to charge that person with murder. Under the felony murder rule, a person can be charged with murder whenever a killing occurs while a person is in the commission of or attempt to commit a felony. A charge of second degree murder can be applied for any one of 18 different felonies listed in the law, including sexual battery, burglary, distribution of a controlled substance, and more. For any other felony not listed in the statute, a charge of third degree murder can be applied.
While it is not necessary to prove the intent to kill under the felony murder rule, the prosecution would still have to be able to prove all the elements of the underlying felony. An experienced criminal defense attorney will attack the prosecution’s case on every point while simultaneously building a strong defense for a not guilty verdict or judgment of acquittal.
Get Immediate Help to Defend against Murder Charges in Tampa
If you have been charged with murder or homicide in the Tampa Bay area, contact Donald C. Barrett, P.A. to speak with an experienced and dedicated Tampa murder lawyer.