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Florida Involuntary Manslaughter Laws

Overview of Florida Involuntary Manslaughter Laws

When a homicide, the killing of a human being, does not meet the legal definition of murder, Florida state laws allow a prosecutor to consider a manslaughter charge. The state establishes two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. While voluntary manslaughter describes an intentional act performed during a provocation or heat of passion, involuntary manslaughter does not require intent to kill or even intent to perform that act resulting in the victim's death.

To establish involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with "culpable negligence." Florida statutes define culpable negligence as a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior. The state may be able to prove involuntary manslaughter by showing the defendant's recklessness or lack of care when handling a dangerous instrument or weapon, or while engaging in a range of other activities that could lead to death if performed recklessly.

Florida state laws also establish involuntary manslaughter if the prosecutor shows that the defendant used excessive force during self-defense or the defense of another person. The prosecution and defense can look at the facts and circumstances of the killing to determine whether the defendant reasonably believed that self-defense was necessary; if not necessary, the state might proceed with an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Below you will find key information about Florida’s involuntary manslaughter laws and penalties. If you or someone you love has been charged with this crime, seek immediate legal representation to preserve your rights.

Statutes

Florida Statutes Section 782.02-782.36

Penalties and Sentencing

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to 15 years of probation
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

If the defendant committed aggravated manslaughter, such as manslaughter of a child or elderly person by culpable negligence, the state treats the offense as a first degree felony, which increases the potential term of imprisonment to a maximum of thirty years.

Additional Penalty Considerations

Florida laws also require the state to consider the defendant's criminal history and determine whether the defendant is a career criminal or habitual violent offender; if so, the state may be able to increase the defendant's punishment.

Possible Defenses

  • Justifiable use of deadly force to defend against a felony committed against a person or property
  • Excusable homicide committed by accident -- for this defense in an involuntary manslaughter case, the defendant must show that she acted without recklessness qualifying as culpable negligence

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Involuntary Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

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If you are charged with taking someone’s life, regardless of the circumstances, you need to have a quality legal expert on your side. Involuntary manslaughter charges are some of the most severe on the books. Learn more about possible defenses and what your options are from an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney. Get the ball rolling with a free case review.

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