Difference Between Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter in Florida

Nellie L. King

Homicide, murder, and manslaughter are three different terms relating to situations when the death of one person is caused by another. However, each is considered a different crime in the eyes of the law. Intent is a crucial component that can change a manslaughter charge to murder. If you or someone you love has been charged with one of these crimes, understanding the difference between them can help your defense. At the Law Firm of Nellie L. King, we can help you understand any criminal charge against you, including those involving the death of another person.

What Is the Legal Definition of Homicide in Florida?

Homicide does not presume intent to kill; it is the broad legal category where all deaths are caused by another person. This incorporates both justifiable or excusable homicide, such as in the case of self-defense or the defense of another against an attempt to commit a felony or harm, as well as unjustifiable cases, such as murder or manslaughter.

What Is the Legal Definition of Murder in Florida?

Murder denotes intentional homicide, and it requires that there is an active intent to harm or kill the other person, known in legal terms as “malice aforethought.” Murder is broken into multiple degrees, which carry different penalties:

  • Third-Degree Murder: Third-degree murder occurs during the commission of a non-violent crime when the murder is unintentional. Drug deaths caused by one person supplying drugs to another who dies of an overdose are a notable exception to this statute, carrying an automatic first-degree murder charge. The penalties for third-degree murder are a minimum of 10.3 years, with a maximum of 15 years.
  • Second-Degree Murder: More serious and far more specific than third-degree murder, second-degree murder is known as “murder with a depraved mind.” A charge for this requires that the accused had a disregard for human life or that another aided in a murder but did so without premeditation. The sentence for this is a minimum of 16.75 years with a maximum of life in prison.
  • First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder is premeditated or committed during another violent felony, such as trafficking in drugs, grand theft, or sexual battery. First-degree murder can only be sentenced to life without parole or death in Florida.

What Is Felony Murder?

When a person kills another while engaging in or attempting a crime, it is considered a felony. There is no presumption of intent in the case of felony murder, but it is treated the same way as first-degree murder.

How Is Manslaughter Defined in Florida?

Manslaughter is defined as an unjustified or inexcusable killing with a causal link between death and an act, procurement, or negligence. Manslaughter always includes a lesser offense of second-degree felony murder as established by Dean v. State and is a higher charge than second-degree murder. It is broken into two kinds: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

  • Voluntary Manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter is when there is a potential provocation to intentional killing. Common examples of voluntary manslaughter include deaths that occur during arguments, crimes of passion, or physical fights. These are known as manslaughter by the act. A second kind, manslaughter by procurement, is where a person induces or persuades another person to kill another human being but not with the knowledge that it was what they were doing at the time.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter – or manslaughter by culpable negligence – is where a person kills another unintentionally through the result of an otherwise intentional act.

What Types of Manslaughter Charges Are There in Florida?

Both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges carry up to 15 years in prison, with a minimum of 9.25 years without ameliorating circumstances. Manslaughter has three different categories and penalties.

  • Manslaughter by act. In this kind of manslaughter, an unjustifiable and inexcusable act results in another human dying. This is a kind of voluntary manslaughter.
  • Manslaughter by procurement. This kind of manslaughter is where the defendant did not do an act themselves to cause the death but rather persuaded or otherwise convinced another person to do something that results in the death of a person. This is a voluntary kind of manslaughter.
  • Manslaughter by culpable negligence. This is involuntary manslaughter. For this charge, a person is culpably negligent, having either not done something that would have prevented another person’s death or done something negligent which did.

There can be further issues that complicate manslaughter charges. For instance, a manslaughter charge when a first responder or elderly/disabled person is killed carries a heavier penalty of up to 30 years in prison. Likewise, if a weapon or firearm is involved, charges can increase to up to 30 years in prison. Homicide charges in Florida have a wide range of penalties; if you aren’t sure how you are being charged or what sentencing you’ll face, contact our firm.

FAQs About Homicide vs Murder vs Manslaughter

How Does a Charge of Manslaughter Differ from a Murder Charge?

A murder charge presumes intent and knowledge of the fact that a person will die as a result of their actions. Manslaughter, on the other hand, is unintentional and without malice aforethought. It requires that the person in question does not have the intent to harm or kill the other person in any way.

What Is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter in Florida?

Murder is committed on purpose to intentionally kill another person, whereas manslaughter is, by definition, unintentional. Because murder requires that a person has the intention to kill someone else, it is always unjustified. Manslaughter, on the other hand, is either an indirect result in its causation or is otherwise unplanned.

How Many Years Do You Get for Manslaughter?

A charge of manslaughter carries with it up to 15 years of prison time, followed by up to 15 years of probation. If there are no grounds on which to reduce a person’s sentence, then the minimum sentence that a judge can give is 9.25 years of prison time.

Contact the Law Offices of Nellie L. King

After an arrest for homicide, manslaughter, or murder, you need an experienced and compassionate team. Let our time in the courtroom work for you. At the Law Offices of Nellie L. King, we treat each case with the care and consideration it deserves. We handle criminal defense in West Palm Beach, FL exclusively, so you can trust the focus of our firm to get you the most optimal result possible for your case.

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