While it may seem like all murder charges are the same, there are huge differences between the various degrees. First-degree murder is a serious charge.
According to the Florida Statutes, murder is killing another person, but first-degree murder has specific requirements.
Murder in the first degree requires planning ahead of time to kill the other person. Accidental situations do not qualify under this degree with a couple of exceptions.
Commission of a crime
Murder in the first degree may also happen without premeditation if it occurs while you are committing another serious crime, such as robbery, arson, or kidnapping. Be aware that for this type of charge, you do not have to be responsible for the death. For example, if you are driving the getaway car after a robbery, you wreck the vehicle, and your accomplice dies, you are on the hook for murder. The same is true if your partner kills the victim, or if officers in the attempt to stop you kill someone. If someone dies while you are committing a crime, you will face first-degree murder charges.
If you provide an illegal substance that leads to the death of another person, then you are responsible. As long as the prosecutors can prove the substance led to the death, they can charge you with first-degree murder.
These factors separate first-degree murder from the other degrees. Prosecutors get to make the decision of what charge to use in your case. It is essential to understand the legal requirements to prove the degree of murder so that you can provide an adequate defense. In Florida, the penalty for murder in the first degree is life in prison or the death sentence.