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Violent Crimes: Murder / Manslaughter Charges

There are different types of murder and manslaughter offenses that can be charged in the State of Florida. The criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of DMT have defended dozens of clients charged with many forms of murder and manslaughter. From first degree murder to DUI manslaughter cases, DMT always provides a well thought out defense combined, with an effective trial strategy. Due to the severe nature of murder and manslaughter charges, many cases handled by DMT have resulted in a jury trial. Experienced trial lawyers are necessary to defend cases that can result in severe consequences. Of course, all possible defenses will be exhausted prior to going to trial in an effort to get the results that are most desirable for our clients. As soon as DMT is retained to defend a murder or manslaughter case, our team of criminal attorneys and private investigators immediately go to work in order to present the most effective and well-prepared defense.

There are two types of first degree murder cases in the State of Florida. The first type is pre-mediated murder. Pre-meditation requires the prosecution to prove that a defendant committed the murder after making conscious decision to take another person's life. Pre-meditation does not require that a specific amount of time must pass between the specific intent to commit the killing and the actual killing. The period of time must only allow for reflection before the killing occurs. Pre-meditation is a question of fact that will be decided by a jury. Transferred intent applies if a defendant with premeditated design attempted to kill a person, but inadvertently killed another human being. The second type of first degree murder is felony murder. In felony murder cases, the prosecution must prove that a death occurred as a consequence of and during the commission of felony or attempting to commit a felony or while the defendant was escaping from the scene of recently committed felony. The defendant need not have been the person who killed the victim, as long as he or she was involved in the commission of the enumerated felony. In order to gain a conviction for first degree felony murder, the prosecution need not prove pre-meditation. Some of the enumerated felonies that can form the basis of first degree felony murder include the following: There are two types of second degree murder charges. The first type requires that a killing occurred as a result of an act imminently dangerous to another and that act demonstrated a depraved mind with disregard for the value of human life. Imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind means that the act is one that a normal person would know is reasonably likely to kill or produce serious bodily injury, is done from ill will or evil intent and the act demonstrates and indifference to human life. The prosecution need not prove an intent to cause death. Second degree felony murder arises under the same circumstances mentioned above, however, the death must have been caused by a person not involved in the commission of an enumerated felony.

Manslaughter is a lesser included offense of murder and requires that the defendant caused the death of another, but that the death was the result of culpable negligence. Florida law defines culpable negligence as more than a failure to use ordinary care. It is a course of conduct that demonstrates a reckless disregard for human life or for the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects. Generally, it is a wanton, reckless or gross disregard for the safety and welfare of the general public. DUI manslaughter is another variation of homicide. It requires that a defendant be in actual or physical control of a vehicle, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The influence of alcohol or drugs must be such that the defendant's normal faculties were impaired or had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or greater. It is important to note that the defendant must have been the cause of the accident and resulting death. Defendants can be charged with BUI manslaughter under similar circumstance when vessels or water craft are involved.

There are several defenses to murder and related offenses. The most common defense in beating a murder or manslaughter charge is the justifiable use of deadly force. Self-defense is always permitted if a defendant reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself when another attempted to murder him or commit a forcible enumerated felony against him. A recent development in law assists defendants charged with murder, manslaughter or other violent crimes. If a person was not engaged in unlawful activity, he or she does not have a duty to retreat and can use force, even deadly force to prevent harm to himself, herself or another person. The same defense applies when a defendant was inside his home and uses deadly force. Another defense is called the alibi. As long as the defense attorney provides adequate notice to the prosecutor, the defendant can allege that he was not present at the scene of the alleged crime.

If you are under investigation for, or have been arrested and charged with murder or manslaughter, contact the Miami criminal lawyers at DMT. An experienced criminal attorney is available every day of the year, 24 hours a day to speak with you regarding your situation. Allow us the opportunity to help protect your rights and defend you case and you will not be disappointed. You can call our office at (305) 340-2197 or reach us by completing the form on our contact page or by sending an e-mail.