First-Degree Murder Attorney in Tampa, FL
First -degree murder is the most serious crime on the books in Florida. If you have been charged with this capital felony, you already know you are fighting for your life. It is imperative that you act quickly to retain qualified legal assistance. You need to begin building an aggressive defense immediately.
If you or a loved one are facing first-degree murder charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa first-degree murder criminal defense lawyer, today.
First-Degree Murder: Premeditated Murder in Tampa, FL
Criminal homicide is the unlawful killing of one human being by another. Murder is the most serious kind of criminal homicide, and first-degree murder is the most serious kind of murder. There are two types: premeditated murder and felony murder. Premeditated murder occurs when one person kills another with willful deliberation and planning. This kind of murder requires an offender act with both specific intent to kill and reflection. In other words, the offender decides he wants to kill (specific intent), then has time to cool down and reconsider (reflection), then kills anyway. Prosecutors prove intent and reflection by external circumstances and a defendant’s actions, not by his actual state of mind. Courts do not require that any great amount of time pass between the development of intent and the act of killing; a few seconds is long enough for an offender to cool down and reflect before committing premeditated murder.
First-Degree Murder: Felony Murder in Tampa, FL
Florida uses a special law to punish people who commit serious crimes during which other people are killed. This is known as the felony murder rule. It is first-degree murder in Florida to kill another person while committing or attempting to commit any of a list of major felonies, most of them violent, including rape, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, home-invasion robbery and delivery of certain illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin where the drugs lead to death. Unlike premeditated murder, there is no requirement that a defendant act with either planning or intent to kill, only that he act with intent to commit the underlying felony. In other words, even an accidental killing during the commission or attempted commission of a major felony can lead to a capital murder charge.
First-Degree Murder: Penalties and Defenses in Tampa, FL
First-degree murder is a capital felony in Florida. This means there are only two possible outcomes following a conviction: the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors can waive the death penalty. If they do not, and a defendant is convicted, the choice between life and death is left to a jury. But it is important to fight the process long before you have reached this point. There are several possible defenses to first-degree murder. Self defense, also known as justifiable use of force, is an absolute defense to first-degree murder if the force used against the other person was necessary and proportionate to the threat the person posed. Florida has relatively strong self defense laws, so if the person who was killed posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to you or another person, or was engaged in the commission of a forcible felony such as rape or kidnapping, the killing will be considered justified. The same is true if the person who was killed broke into your home or broke into your car while someone was in it. There are also legal excuses for killings, including accident and provocation. Sometimes these are absolute defenses, sometimes not, but if successful they can at least turn a first-degree murder charge into second degree murder or manslaughter.