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Murder and Homicide

Murder and Homicide

Premeditated murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. Depraved Heart Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved or reckless state of mind, indifferent to human life, although without any premeditated design to cause the death of any particular individual. It is also known as murder in the second degree. Felony Murder occurs when there is any killing of another human being during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a specific enumerated felony in the Florida Statutes. There are two ways in which a person may be convicted of first degree murder. One is known as premeditated murder and the other is known as felony murder. To prove the criminal offense of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, that the death was caused by the criminal act of the criminal suspect, and that there was a premeditated killing of the victim.

An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose. “Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the criminal suspect. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing. The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by the jury from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing. If a person has a premeditated design to kill one person and in attempting to kill that person actually kills another person, the killing is premeditated. To prove the criminal offense of First Degree Felony Murder, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, and that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect was engaged in the commission of the criminal offense alleged, that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect was attempting to commit the criminal offense alleged, or that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect, or an accomplice, was escaping from the immediate scene of the criminal violation alleged. The State Attorney must also prove that the criminal suspect was the person who actually killed the victim or that the victim was killed by a person other than the criminal suspect, but both the criminal suspect and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of the criminal violation alleged. In order to convict the criminal suspect of First Degree Felony Murder, it is not necessary for the State Attorney to prove that the criminal suspect had a premeditated design or intent to kill. To prove the criminal offense of Second Degree Murder, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, that the death was caused by the criminal act of the criminal suspect, and that there was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose. An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life. In order to convict of Second Degree Murder, it is not necessary for the State Attorney to prove that the criminal suspect had an intent to cause death. To prove the criminal offense of Second Degree Felony Murder, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, and that the death occurred as a consequence of and while a criminal offense was being committed, that the death occurred as a consequence of and while there was an attempt to commit a criminal offense, or that the death occurred as a consequence of and while there was an escape from the immediate scene of a criminal offense. The State Attorney must also prove that the criminal suspect was not the person who actually killed the victim but did knowingly aid, abet, counsel, hire, or otherwise procure the commission of the criminal offense alleged, and that the person who actually killed the victim was not involved in the commission or the attempt to commit the criminal offense alleged. To prove the criminal offense of Third Degree Felony Murder, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, and that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect was engaged in the commission of a criminal offense, that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect was attempting to commit the criminal offense alleged, or that the death occurred as a consequence of and while the criminal suspect, or an accomplice, was escaping from the immediate scene of the criminal offense alleged. The State Attorney must also prove that the criminal suspect was the person who actually killed the victim or that the victim was killed by a person other than the criminal suspect, but both the criminal suspect and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of a criminal offense. It is not necessary for the State Attorney to prove that the killing was perpetrated with a design to effect death. To prove the criminal offense of Vehicular or Vessel Homicide, the State Attorney must prove more than a failure to use ordinary care, and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead, that the death was caused by the operation of a motor vehicle or vessel by the criminal suspect, and that the criminal suspect operated the motor vehicle or vessel in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of or great bodily harm to another person. An intent by the criminal suspect to harm or injure the victim or any other person is not an element to be proved by the State Attorney. If the jury finds the criminal suspect guilty of vehicular or vessel homicide, the jury must then determine whether the State Attorney has further proved beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time of the accident, the criminal suspect knew, or should have known, that the accident occurred, and that the criminal suspect failed to give information and render aid as required by law. However, the State Attorney is not required to prove that the criminal suspect knew that the accident resulted in injury or death.

“Victim” includes a human being or a viable fetus which is killed as a result of any injury to the mother. A fetus is viable when it becomes capable of meaningful life outside the womb through standard medical measures. “Vessel” is synonymous with boat and includes every description of watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

If you have been arrested or criminally charged with First Degree Murder or Homicide, Second Degree Murder, Felony Murder, or Vehicular or Vessel Homicide, it would be advantageous to call a criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights as the defendant in a criminal law case. Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth P. Hassett of Hassett and Associates, P.A. is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has been practicing since 1991 in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Dade County, and Broward County. Criminal defense lawyers can represent you against the State Attorney’s criminal charges. Kenneth P. Hassett is a criminal lawyer who will fight hard to battle the criminal charges in your case. Call Hassett and Associates, P.A. 24 hours per day seven days per week for an immediate free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale Homicide Attorney.

782.04 Murder.

782.02 Justifiable use of deadly force.

Disclaimer

The information on this page does not represent legal advice. Florida Statues obtained from Online Sunshine, www.leg.state.fl.us, the official site of the Florida Legislature. Because the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained herein may be out of date. It is always wise to seek counsel from an experienced criminal attorney like Kenneth Hassett.

If you have been charged as an Accessory After the Fact or a Principal in the First Degree to a criminal offense in Broward or Miami-Dade County, call Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth P. Hassett.