The terms homicide, murder, and manslaughter are all legal terms associated with the killing of human beings. Homicide is an umbrella term that describes the killing of a human being by another human being. There may be instances in which a homicide is lawful — such as when police must shoot to kill a suspect that is endangering the community or an act of killing in self-defense. Unlawful homicides are categorized into two camps: murder and manslaughter. Facing charges for either of these in West Palm Beach could lead to a hefty prison sentence or even the ultimate sentence — the death penalty. Let’s take a look at the distinctions between these two felony crimes.
Defining Murder in West Palm Beach
Though murder and manslaughter describe the unlawful killing of a human being by another human being, there is one key distinction among them. Murder involves the unlawful and intentional killing of another, with malice aforethought. This means that the defendant intended to kill the victim without justification or excuse. In Florida, there are several degrees of murder based on the severity of the crime.
First-Degree Murder Charges
You can face first-degree murder charges in West Palm Beach for premeditated murder, a felony murder, or a murder committed during the commission of drug dealing or distributing offenses. This is a capital felony for which prosecutors may seek the death penalty.
To prove a premeditated murder, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to kill the victim. To establish premeditation, the prosecutor will need to prove that the defendant planned the murder.
Felony murders are any murders that occur during the commission or attempted commission of a felony offense. Murders that occur during the commission or attempted commission of felony crimes like burglary, home invasion, kidnapping, sexual battery, and many other violent offenses are prosecuted as felony murders.
Finally, Florida laws specify first-degree murder for homicides caused by drug dealing and the unlawful distribution of controlled substances. If a victim dies from a drug overdose, the drug distributor may be charged with first-degree murder.
Second-Degree Murder Charges in Florida
A person may receive a second-degree murder charge when he or she fails to premeditate the killing of another human being. Second-degree murder lacks the premeditation required for a first-degree murder charge. In this scenario, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with a “depraved mind” and no regard for human life.
Often, a person who acts as an accomplice to someone who kills someone else may be charged with second-degree murder if they were engaged in the commission or attempted commission of felony crimes like aggravated stalking, arson, burglary, carjacking, home invasion robbery, sexual battery, kidnapping, the distribution of controlled substances, and other felony offenses.
Manslaughter Charges in West Palm Beach
Manslaughter results in the death of a human being; however these deaths do not occur as the result of meticulous planning or as a side-effect of committing other crimes. There are two types of manslaughter charges in West Palm Beach: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter is a “heat of passion” crime in which the defendant intentionally kills another with no malice aforethought. These are crimes that occur in the “spur of the moment” after being provoked.
Involuntary manslaughter is when the defendant had no intention whatsoever of causing death. Instead, the victim is killed as a result of the defendant’s negligent or reckless actions.
Depending on your charge and the facts of your case, a conviction for either a voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charge may lead to different penalties. You are urged to seek legal counsel and quality representation the moment you learn you are being investigated for manslaughter in or near West Palm Beach.
Determined Criminal Lawyer Fights Murder or Manslaughter Charges
When facing manslaughter or murder charges in West Palm Beach, it is in your best interest to seek the aid of a veteran defense attorney. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel fights charges of violent offenses like manslaughter head-on. When charges this serious stand to change your entire life and future, he does not waste a moment to investigate every detail of the case to help place you in the most favorable light.
Brian Gabriel is an attorney with a strong reputation in Palm Beach County. For years he has enjoyed many positive professional relationships with judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and others who work for the court. You can trust him to defend grave charges and fight aggressively to obtain the most desirable outcome. Brian Gabriel has defended those accused of felony offenses including murder throughout Palm Beach County for more than 30 years. Call 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form to begin your defense with a free consultation.