Second-Degree Murder Attorney in Tampa, FL
Second-degree murder is one of the most serious charges a person can face in Florida, and the consequences of a conviction are life-shattering. There are a number of defenses to a charge of second-degree murder, but they all require aggressive representation. Do not wait to obtain qualified legal assistance. The charges are far too serious.
If you or a loved one are facing second-degree murder charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa second-degree murder criminal defense lawyer, today.
Second-Degree Murder: Depraved Mind in Tampa, FL
There are two kinds of second-degree murder in the state of Florida: depraved mind murder and accomplice felony murder. Depraved mind murder covers the unlawful killing of another person by an imminently dangerous act that demonstrates a “depraved mind” with an extreme lack of regard for human life. This type of second-degree murder punishes extremely reckless, uncaring acts that lead to death. It does not apply to mere reckless indifference toward human life; that is covered by manslaughter laws. It also does not apply to murders committed with intent to kill; that is covered by first degree murder. Instead, committing an imminently dangerous act with a depraved mind means committing an act an ordinary person would know is reasonably likely to lead to death or serious injury, doing so with ill will or evil intent (but not intent to kill), and doing so in a way that demonstrates a complete indifference to human life. This is known in other parts of the country as depraved indifference homicide or depraved heart murder.
Second-Degree Murder: Felony Murder in Tampa, FL
The other type of second-degree murder is a controversial statute known as accomplice felony murder, a piece of the so-called felony murder rule. This rule is also covered by the statute that defines first-degree murder: Under that law, it is a capital crime to kill another person while committing or attempting to commit one of several major felonies, most of them violent. Second-degree felony murder extends the rule to accomplices. If you commit or attempt to commit a kidnapping, robbery, rape or other violent felony during which one of your accomplices kills someone, you are guilty of second-degree murder as an accomplice under the felony murder rule. What makes the statute controversial is that a person who has not killed anyone can spend as much time in prison as a person who has. The fact that it was your accomplice who committed a killing under the felony murder rule, not you, only saves you from the death penalty, not prison.
Second-Degree Murder: Penalties and Defenses in Tampa, FL
Second-degree murder in Florida carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. For second-degree felony murder, the state imposes a 19-year minimum sentence. For depraved mind murder, the mandatory minimum is more than 20 years. There are several defenses to second-degree murder. Self defense, also known as justifiable use of force, is an absolute defense as long as the force used was necessary and proportionate to the threat posed by the other person. If the person who was killed posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, or was engaged in the commission of a forcible felony such as rape or kidnapping, the killing will be considered justified, as it will 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 some killings, including accident and provocation.