Second Degree Murder
More serious than third degree murder, second degree murder occurs when one kills another without premeditation, but with a state of mind that shows no regard for human life. A perfect example of second degree murder is a woman comes home from a hard day of work to find her ne’er-do-well husband in bed with another woman who she doesn’t know. In a fit of rage she pulls out a gun and shoots her husband and kills him. No premeditation or planning here, but she definitely wants to kill him at that moment and she does. That’s second degree murder. Second degree murder is a first degree felony punishable by life, or a life felony if the homicide is done with a firearm.
First Degree Murder
No other crime is more serious. First, it requires a premeditated plan to kill another person. Premeditation can happen in either a short or long period of planning. The appellate court case law varies on exactly what constitutes premeditation. Also, first degree murder occurs if a person is killed while committing one of the dangerous felonies listed in Florida statutes section 782.04; Or you are a participant in a violent felony such as a robbery or home invasion and someone is killed. The person killed could be your accomplice if the victim uses deadly force against his attackers. This is what’s called felony murder. First degree murder is a capital offense; the sentence for a 1st degree murder conviction is life without parole. Or if killing was elaborately planned or was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel a person convicted could get the death penalty in state or federal court.
Defenses to Homicide/Murder
There are defenses to murder or homicide! Florida has a broad self defense law that permits a person who takes another’s life to be justified in the use of deadly force. Florida is famous for the “stand your ground” law Florida state statute 776.013, titled by the legislature as “home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm; If you are attacked, or reasonably believe you or someone around you is being attacked, you may use deadly force to prevent death, great bodily harm, or a forcible felony. You do not have a duty to retreat. Although there are some exceptions, for example, if you are engaged in unlawful activity or you initiated an attack.
If from the evidence it appears that the homicide victim had systematically abused his significant other or child by violent physical and mental abuse and that act of murder was committed in an act of self-defense a judge or jury could find that the defendant committed the homicide in self-defense and find them not guilty. Battered spouse or battered child syndrome (in cases of parenticide) the finder of fact focus on the following findings at trial: the determination of whether the perpetrator (1) had acted with prior calculation and design as charged in the indictment, (2) had acted with purpose as required for the lesser included offense of murder, (3) had created the confrontation or initiated the aggression, and (4) had an honest belief that he was in imminent danger, a necessary element in the affirmative defense of self-defense. For the “Battered” defense to be successful the findings above must be consistent with the finding by a Forensic psychologist or psychiatrist that the person who committed the murder suffered from post traumatic stress from the abuse and the killing took place to prevent further perceived use of deadly force.
Battered spouse is a permissible defense allowed under Florida statutes, rules of criminal procedure 3.201. Battered child syndrome in defense of homicide is rare, however, it can fit within the parameters of battered spouse. Attorney Darren Shull is the first attorney in the State of Florida to introduce the battered child defense in a circuit criminal court in a homicide trial.
Homicide is one of the most complex areas of criminal law. It takes a skilled Palm Beach County homicide defense attorney to explore all your legal defenses. The Law Offices of Darren D. Shull can help provide you with the maximum defense that you are entitled to under the law. To learn more, call our Palm Beach County murder defense lawyers at 561-972-6444. Our offices serve Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and all of Palm Beach County.