The crime of homicide is committed when the criminal actions of one person unlawfully cause the death of another human being. For purposes of sentencing, the criminal statutes classify homicides into various types and degrees.
Murder in the first degree, for which the death sentence may be imposed, consists of premeditated killings, killings committed in the course of the perpetration or attempted perpetration of certain felonies, and killings that result from certain controlled-substance distribution offenses.
Unlawful killing that is not premeditated, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, is murder in the second degree, which is a first-degree felony. A person also commits a second-degree murder when, during that person's perpetration or attempted perpetration of certain felonies, someone else commits a killing.
An unlawful killing without the intent to kill, by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, certain felonies (generally all those except felonies that lead to felony murder), is third-degree murder, a felony in the second degree.
In prosecuting a felony-murder charge, the State must establish that the defendant had the specific intent to commit a crime, and show that the defendant committed some actual overt act toward actually committing the crime that was more than mere preparation, reaching far enough toward accomplishing the desired result to amount to commencement of the consummation of the crime. In addition, the element of causation—that is, that the homicide was committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of the felony—must be established. For a felony-murder conviction, the defendant's presence during the killing is unnecessary; the critical fact is his or her participation in the underlying felony.
Manslaughter is defined in statute as the killing of another human being by one's act, procurement, or culpable negligence, without lawful justification according to the provisions of Florida statutes governing the justifiable use of force and in cases in which such killing is not excusable homicide or murder. The defendant has committed the offense of manslaughter when the killing is voluntary, as in the case of provocation, when the killing is involuntary, such as when the crime is committed through culpable negligence, or when the defendant uses excessive force in self-defense. Courts sometimes use the terms "voluntary manslaughter" and "involuntary manslaughter." Voluntary manslaughter is committed by act or procurement, and involuntary manslaughter is committed by culpable negligence; whereas voluntary manslaughter is a crime of intent, involuntary manslaughter is not.
One of the primary distinctions between the crime of manslaughter and second-degree depraved-mind murder is that manslaughter is committed when one kills as a result of culpable negligence, while second-degree depraved-mind murder is committed when one kills while perpetrating an act imminently dangerous to the victim and evincing a depraved indifference to human life.
A murder prosecution, no matter the degree, is the most serious crime that a person could face. The client needs competent and experienced representation to get him or her through this challenging time. Erick Cruz has experience both prosecuting murder crimes and representing individuals accused of murder. Erick is uniquely capable of closely examining and scrutinizing a murder investigation and looking for deficiencies in the investigation and violation of your rights.
Call Erick Cruz if a loved one is under investigation for or has been charged with murder.