Murder Charges in Florida, a Defense Attorney Explains

There is no criminal charge more serious than murder. Any person accused of murder in Florida faces up to a lifetime in prison, and in some cases, even the death penalty. Only an accomplished criminal defense lawyer with years of experience handling homicide cases can help you or your loved one when a murder charge is filed. The legal knowledge and courtroom skill required to defend a murder charge are rare among practicing lawyers. 

The lawyers at Stechschulte Nell specialize in representing people accused of the most serious criminal offenses. Tampa area residents know we are committed to your defense, regardless of what the police and prosecutors allege.  

Our mission as professional criminal defense lawyers is to provide you with the most complete and effective defense, using the law, the facts, and the evidence or lack of evidence to protect your legal. We take that mission seriously. 

If you or your loved one is charged with homicide, murder, or manslaughter, contact Stechschulte Nell immediately for a free, confidential consultation.  

Murder and Degrees of Murder 

Florida Statute §782.04 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being. But the facts and circumstances surrounding the death can be different in every case. The law recognizes that some cases involve mitigating circumstances and that the same penalty is not appropriate for every defendant. The accused’s state of mind at the time of the killing is a key factor in determining the degree of murder or if it constitutes murder at all. 

  • First Degree Murder — Florida law provides a detailed list of the acts considered to be murder in the first degree. The key requirement is that the unlawful killing was perpetrated from a premeditated design to kill the victim or another person.  A first-degree murder conviction in Florida can bring a sentence of life imprisonment without parole or death, depending on the facts of the case. 
  • Second Degree Murder — The killing of a human being by an act imminently dangerous to another person and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard to human life, even without any premeditated intent to kill, is murder in the second degree. A person convicted in Florida of second-degree murder can be sentenced to life in prison or to a term of years in prison. Again, the sentence imposed is based on the specific facts of the case, including the defendant’s state of mind. 
  • Third Degree Murder — Florida, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota are the only states with third-degree murder. The unintentional killing of a human being during the commission or attempt to commit a non-violent felony is murder in the third degree. It’s important to note that in a case where a death is caused by an illegal drug sold to the decedent, the seller could face a first-degree murder charge. Third-degree murder carries a penalty of at least ten years in prison and as much as fifteen years in prison.  
  • Manslaughter — Manslaughter is the unintentional killing of a human being by an act that reckless and in wanton disregard for human life. It may also be charged when a person kills in a sudden heat of passion in response to a sudden provocation.  

What Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do to Help? 

The state prosecutors will often file the most serious crime possible against the defendant. They want to ensure that if they fail to prove the highest degree of murder, they can still convict the accused of the next most severe offense.  

If you or your loved one are accused of any homicide crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer is indispensable. A skilled criminal defense attorney examines every item of evidence, every witness statement, and every fact relating to the death in minute detail.  

Our legal analysis of the facts and the evidence exposes any weaknesses and important gaps in the prosecution’s case. The detailed deconstruction of the case reveals the most powerful and effective avenue of defense to the charge. 

Tampa Homicide Defense  

As criminal defense lawyers, we study every part of the police investigation, the accuracy or the inconsistency of police reports, the reliability of the laboratory tests, and the precision with which the medical examiner performed and recorded the autopsy.  

We obtain the prosecution’s evidence, including exculpatory evidence helping our client. We fight the use of any evidence obtained by police through improper searches or seizures and move to exclude any statements made by our client in violation their constitutional rights. We also obtain expert opinions from specialists whose testimony is needed to explain scientific or other complex material evidence.  

Stechschulte Nell Law will stand with you or your loved one throughout the entirety of any homicide prosecution.  

When your life is at stake, trust only the professionals. Contact Tampa’s premier criminal defense team today; Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law— 813-489-5379 

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