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How does Florida define first degree murder?

If you face first degree murder charges in Florida, the specific charge against you may be one of three types of homicide. Florida defines homicide itself as an unlawful killing of another person. 

As FindLaw explains, you commit first degree murder, a/k/a capital murder, if you commit one of the following three types of homicide: 

  1. Kill someone during the commission of certain drug crimes 
  2. Kill someone during the commission of certain felonies 
  3. Kill someone with premeditation 

If convicted of a capital murder charge, you face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Capital murder drug crimes 

Drug crimes that can lead to a capital murder charge include dealing or trafficking in controlled substances such as cocaine, opium, methadone, etc. You must be 18 years or older to face this charge, but you do not need to personally kill your alleged victim. If (s)he dies as the result of overdosing on the drug you supplied, this is sufficient to convict you of the charge. 

Capital murder felonies 

If you kill someone, whether deliberately or accidentally, while committing one of Florida’s specified felonies, this, too, will result in a capital murder charge. Florida has a long list of qualifying felonies, including the following: 

  • Robbery or burglary 
  • Kidnapping 
  • Carjacking 
  • Aggravated child abuse, elder abuse or disabled adult abuse 
  • Arson 
  • Terrorism 

Premeditated capital murder 

To convict you of premeditated capital murder the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you specifically intended to kill your alleged victim. (S)he can show premeditation by presenting evidence of such things as the activities you pursued prior to the killing. 

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice. 

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