Florida law defines three types of murder charges depending on the circumstances of the case. The state designates penalties for each degree based on the severity of the crime and other factors.
Review these categories and the possible legal consequences if convicted for murder charges in Florida.
Killing someone while in the act of a nonviolent felony constitutes third-degree murder in Florida. A murder that occurs in these circumstances is a second-degree felony. A conviction carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to 15 years.
Florida uses this charge when a murder was intentional, but the state lacks proof of premeditation on the part of the offender. However, proof exists that the defendant acted with disregard for another person’s life. Florida penalizes this type of conviction as a first-degree felony, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years in prison.
The state requires premeditation for the charge of first-degree murder. First-degree murder charges may also apply when the offender killed someone while committing or attempting to commit a violent felony, including but not limited to home invasion, carjacking, battery, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson or trafficking.
First-degree murder is a capital felony in Florida. A convicted person can receive life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Defendants facing these charges may present evidence that they acted in self-defense, which constitutes a justifiable murder in Florida. The defense may also argue that death occurred accidentally or refute evidence of premeditation.