West Palm Beach Manslaughter/Homicide Lawyer
“Homicide” is the broad term used to describe the act of one person killing another person. Not all homicides are criminal. For example, if you shoot and kill someone in self-defense, that is often considered a justifiable homicide under the law.
But unlawful homicide, including murder and manslaughter, are among the most serious crimes prosecuted by Florida authorities. Indeed, some murders can even lead to the death penalty, itself a form of lawful homicide committed by the state. So if you have been charged with an unlawful killing and need legal representation from an experienced West Palm Beach manslaughter/homicide lawyer, the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., is ready and able to assist.
How Does Murder Differ from Manslaughter in Florida?
The terms “murder” and “manslaughter” both describes types of criminal homicide. Murder involves the unlawful killing of a human being under any of the following circumstances:
the killing was premeditated, i.e., the killer acted with the goal of killing a specific person or any human being;
the killing was committed in the course of committing, or attempting to commit, certain other felonies, such as robbery, arson, sexual battery, or kidnapping; or
the defendant was an adult who distributed illegal drugs to another person who died as a result of using such drugs.
Florida classifies murder as either first-, second-, or third-degree. First-degree murder is a capital offense, meaning a defendant can be sentenced to death or life in prison upon conviction. Third-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and typically involves cases where the murder was unintentional and not part of another criminal act (except for deaths caused by supplying illegal drugs, which is always treated as first-degree murder in Florida). Second-degree murder lacks the premeditation of first-degree murder but still requires proof the defendant acted with a “depraved mind,” i.e., a lack of regard for human life.
In contrast to murder, manslaughter involves the killing of another person “by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification.” Basically, if someone dies due to the result of a criminally reckless or negligent act, the actor can be charged with felony manslaughter. For instance, if a person drives a motor vehicle while drunk and strikes and kills a pedestrian, that is considered vehicular manslaughter.
Manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years in prison. In cases where manslaughter involves a firearm or other weapon, it is a first-degree felony, which doubles the maximum possible jail term to 30 years.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
The death of another human being is always tragic. But if you are charged with causing that death, you have every right to defend yourself in court. A skilled West Palm Beach homicide/manslaughter lawyer can review your case and advise you of your legal options. Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today if you need to speak with someone as soon as possible.