Murder charges are arguably the most serious criminal charges a person can face. All murder charges are felony charges for which one can face severe penalties upon conviction. There are various degrees of murder that determine the severity of the punishment that could ensue; yet, regardless of the specific variation, one can expect to spend years in prison if one is convicted. Capital punishment may be imposed in the worst case scenarios. If you face murder charges in West Palm Beach, you must act urgently to secure a professional defense attorney with decades of experience defending murder charges. In West Palm Beach, attorney Brian Gabriel has over 25 years of experience fighting for the criminally accused.
Murder Charges in West Palm Beach
Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being and is just one type of homicide crime. Homicide is the killing of one human being by another human being. Although murder is always considered a crime, homicide is not. Murder may be a first, second, or third degree felony depending on the facts of the case. Third degree murder is the least serious murder offense, while first degree murder describes only the most serious types of homicides in West Palm Beach.
First Degree Murder
Three distinct situations can be classified as first-degree murder, which is a capital felony offense.
Premeditated killing: A premeditated killing happens when a person plans to take another’s life with malice aforethought. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant carefully planned the killing before it took place.
Felony murder: A felony murder takes place when someone is killed when another is committing or attempting to commit a felony crime listed in Florida Statute §782.04.
Homicide committed during specified drug dealing offenses: In some instances, a drug dealer or distributor in West Palm Beach who has distributed certain illegal substances that are later proven to be the cause of death of the user could be held accountable for the overdose. These substances include Schedule I substances, cocaine, opium or any synthetic preparation of opium, methadone, alfentanil, carfentanil, fentanyl, sufentanil, or new substances that have yet to be included in the Florida Statutes.
As a capital offense, a first degree murder conviction could lead to the death penalty or life in prison without chance of parole.
Second Degree Murder
Second degree murder describes an intentional killing that was not premeditated. It also includes killings that occur because of a reckless disregard for human life. Unlike first degree murder, there is no premeditation; rather, the defendant acts with a depraved mind and reckless disregard for human life. Second degree murder requires that the defendant acted impulsively but with intent. The defendant in this scenario understands his or her actions, which differs from voluntary manslaughter, which is often committed in a “heat of passion.”
Second degree murder is also a first degree felony offense. Life in prison without the possibility of parole is possible; however, capital punishment is not.
Third Degree Murder
Third degree murder can take place when a person is unintentionally killed while a defendant is committing, or attempting to commit, a felony offense as described in §782.04. The exception is the nonviolent drug crime of distributing or selling illegal substances that can lead to a deadly overdose. Third degree murder is a second degree felony offense. One can face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.
Few criminal convictions stand to alter the course of your life so drastically as those for murder. With over 25 years of experience, attorney Brian Gabriel is the murder defense attorney you need in West Palm Beach. He has dedicated his entire career to fighting severe criminal charges and can help you seek the best resolution possible under the circumstances. Call 561-622-5575 or contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.