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Florida Second Degree Murder Laws

Overview of Florida Second Degree Murder Laws

In Florida, state laws establish several types of homicide, the unlawful killing of a human being. The state prosecutes homicides as murders and manslaughters -- it may be helpful to know the multiple types of murders established by state law and understand the differences among them. In particular, second degree murder lacks the premeditation often required for the prosecution of a first degree murder.

To prove second degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted according to a "depraved mind" without regard for human life. Florida state laws permit the prosecution of second degree murder when the killing lacked premeditation or planning, but the defendant acted with enmity toward the victim or the two had an ongoing interaction or relationship. Unlike first degree murder, second degree murder does not necessarily require proof of the defendant's intent to kill.

State law specifically requires a charge of second degree murder if the victim dies during the commission of one of the felony crimes specified by statute. These felonies include burglary, home-invasion robbery, kidnapping, sexual battery, and a number of other offenses. To establish second degree murder, the prosecutor must show that the victim died as a result of an act committed by a non-participant in the felony. If the defendant or another criminal participant in the felony caused the unlawful killing, state law requires a charge of first degree murder rather than second degree murder. Florida uses this law to deter and punish unintended deaths as a result of felonious activities.

Defenses to Second Degree Murder Charges

  • Justifiable use of deadly force to defend against a felony committed against a person or property
  • Excusable homicide committed by accident
  • Spontaneous or negligent killing that might qualify as manslaughter instead of murder

Penalties and Sentences

A second degree murder prosecuted as a first degree felony may result in a sentence of imprisonment for a term lasting up to thirty years. Florida laws also permit the state to request a term of life imprisonment. If the defendant has a prior record of felony convictions or has committed other homicides, the state may request an increased sentence of imprisonment for life.

Florida Second Degree Murder Statute

Florida Statutes Sections 782.02-782.36

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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