West Palm Beach Homicide Lawyer & Attorney – Florida Homicide Lawyer & Attorney
If you, or someone you love, are facing murder, homicide, or manslaughter charges, contact attorney Nellie L. King for your immediate consultation. Murder or homicide offenses are considered ultimate crimes which will likely lead to severe punishment if a conviction results. If you are in need of legal representation in a murder, homicide, or manslaughter investigation or case, Nellie King is available 24 hours a day for consultation. Nellie King has a reputation for being an experienced, knowledgeable, creative and aggressive lawyer who represents those accused of homicide throughout the state of Florida. Contact Nellie L. King, P.A. at 561-833-1084, 24 hours a day, or fill out a form on the side of this page to schedule your free initial consultation.
Types of Homicide / Murder / Manslaughter Charges:
- 1st Degree Murder
- Felony Murder
- 2nd Degree Murder
- 3rd Degree Murder
- Vehicular or DUI Manslaughter
Elements of Murder / Homicide / Manslaughter Charges:
- First Degree Premeditated Murder – The unlawful klling of a human being when perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being. First degree murder is punishable by life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Fla. Stat.Sect. 782.04(1)(a)(1).
- Felony Murder – There are instances when an individual might be charged with First Degree Murder even if they had no intent to kill the victim. If a death occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony, prosecutors may seek a conviction based on the Felony Murder Doctrine. Florida Statutes Section 782.04(1)(a)(2) explains that the Felony Murder Rule allows prosecutors to charge someone with First Degree Murder when the death of a non-participant in the offense occurs during the commission, attempt to commit, or escape from the commission of various enumerated felonies. The list of enumerated felonies includes drug trafficking, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, carjacking, home invasion robbery, and aggravated stalking, among others. As a result of this scheme, one who participates in one of the underlying offenses is deemed responsible under the law merely if a homicide occurs during the commission of the underlying crime. The state does not have to prove that the defendant intended for death to result from their actions. Felony murder theories can apply to criminal defendants who are demonstrated by the state’s own evidence not to be the triggerman, when the defendant had no involvement in the planning of the homicide, and even in situations where the death is unintentional or accidental. Defending a Felony Murder charge sometimes involves defending the underlying felony the State claims the accused was participating in when the death occurred. Another recognized defense to the Felony Murder Rule is the Independent Act Doctrine. The Indpendent Act Doctrine can be a viable defense to felony murder when the homicide was not committed by the defendant, the defendant did not intend for the homicide to occur, and the killing was not part of the plan and not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the plan to commit the underlying felony. The draconian aspects of the Felony Murder Rule are obvious – to hold a person accountable for the actions of another, without any correlation between the varying levels of the parties’ involvement, or level of intent, flies in the face of the age-old principle of mens rea, or ‘guilty mind.’ The potential punishment for a conviction based under a felony murder theory are the same as for first degree, premeditated murder – life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
- Second Degree Murder – The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind without regard to human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual. A person can be convicted of Second Degree Murder even if they did not specifically intend to kill anyone. Second Degree Murder is considered a felony of the first degree and is punishable by up to life in prison. Fla.Stat. Sect. 782.04(2).
- Third Degree Murder – The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpretrated without any design to effect death, by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpretrate, any felony other than those enumerated under the First Degree Felony Murder Doctrine above (i.e. the killing occurs during the course of a non-enumerated felony). Fla.Stat.Sect. 782.04(4).
- Manslaughter – The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification. Manslaughter allegations lack the element of premeditation associated with other murder charges. Fla.Stat.Sect.782.07(1).
- DUI Manslaughter – When a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and has a blood alcohol level over a .08, or is under the influence of alcohol to the extent their normal faculties are impaired, and, as a result of being in this condition, causes the death of another. DUI Manslaughter is a second degree felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Fla. Stat. Sect. 316.193(3)(a)(b)(c)(3).
- Vehicular Homicide – The killing of a human being, or the killing of a viable fetus by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another. Vehicular Homicide is a second degree felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Fla.Stat.Sect. 782.071. The charge of Vessel Homicide contains similar elements and criminal penalties. Fla.Stat.Sect. 782.072.
The State typically assigns experienced law enforcement officers and prosecutors to investigate and litigate homicide and manslaughter cases. Law enforcement typically utilizes advanced technology and complex scientific methodology when conducting homicide investigations and prosecutions. This is why it is critical to retain an experienced, aggressive and reputable homicide criminal defense lawyer to defend these type of cases.
Defense of a Homicide, Murder Case or Manslaughter
There are numerous methods and strategies Nellie L. King may employ in defending against a charge of Homicide, Murder, or Manslaughter. Homicide and Murder may be “justified” if the offense was committed out of self defense. Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law may be applicable to your particular set of facts, and, if successful, your case would be dismissed by the court after a Stand Your Ground Hearing. If the use of force is considered jusitfiable under the Stand Your Ground Law, you could also be considered immune from civil liability. Fla.Stat.Sect. 776.012 and 776.032. Furthermore, Homicides and Murders may be considered excusable. An example of excusable homicide includes when the suspect was an actual and continuous victim of repeated domestic violence and killed their spouse out of a perceived threat of real and serious danger against them by their spouse. This is known as Battered Spouse Syndrome and it is a viable defense recognized in the State of Florida. Fla.R.Crim.Pro. 3.201.
Another form of excusable homicide exists when the suspect is legally insane. A finding of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGI) may be substantiated when the defendant suffers from a mental infirmity, disease, or defect and, because of this condition, the defendant did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences, OR, although the defendant knew what he or she was doing and its consequences, the defendant did not know that what he or she was doing was wrong. Fla.Stat.Sect. 775.027. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity represents an affirmative defense and the defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by clear and convincing evidence. Attorney Nellie King has litigated cases where her clients were deemed Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity, including murder cases wherein the client was committed to a Florida Hospital instead of a Florida Prison.
Misidentification can also serve as an important defense to charges of Murder or Homicide. Misidentification of the defendant is far more common than most people realize. It has been reported and studied that the least reliable type of evidence is eyewitness identification. It can be critical to fully evaluate, investigate and question the validity and strength of any witness, especially that of an eyewitness, due to the factors that can taint the identification procedure. Media attention as a result of the numerous wrongful conviction cases that have come to light through organizations such as the Innocence Project of Florida demonstrate how fallible eyewtiness identification methods can be. Throughout her career, Nellie King has challenged law enforcement protocols which can taint the process of witness identifcation endeavors. Law enforcement identification protocols which do not live up to industry best practices should be exposed and denounced both judicially and legislatively. If the goal is for law enforcement to simply clear cases by arrest, instead of solving the crime via the arrest of the actual perpetrator, then Florida is winning in this regard. Nellie King does not accept this practice, however, and continues to advocate for identification reforms in the way of proper law enforcement techniques, the use of experts, public education, and requests for adequate jury instructions in trial.
Forensic, or scientific, evidence has become essential to both the prosecution and defense of homicide cases. This phenomenon has developed as a result of TV programming such as CSI and Law and Order, as well as other media reports pertaining to wrongful convictions. This “CSI Effect” has created a situation where jurors now come to expect the state to produce a certain amount of forensic evidence before juries are willing to convict someone. DNA testing, blood splatter evidence, accident/incident reconstruction issues, entomology, ballistic testing, fingerprint analysis, and decomposition studies are but a few of the areas in which a skilled defense attorney may be called upon to address and utilize in the defense of a homicide case. Nellie King has litigated forensic issues throughout her career and engages the top experts in their field to ensure that the jury understands the real science behind the state’s claims, as well as the theory of defense. Jurors are often presented with junk science by the state in an effort to bolster the state’s theory of guilt. Without counsel and the right experts to challenge the methodologies employed by the state, defendants charged with serious crimes are at a distinct disadvantage.
Attorney Nellie King also investigates the actions and methods law enforcement officers utilize in investigating homicide or murder scenes to determine if the officers properly preserved all of the evidence (including DNA), questioned all the witnesses and other suspects, and whether law enforcement exerted any undue influence or pressure on witnesses to provide statements or testify in the case. Additionally, if law enforcement claims the suspect voluntarily confessed to being involved in a homicide, Attorney Nellie King thoroughly evaluates the content and circumstances of the purported confession to determine whether or not the suspect was properly advised of their Constitutional Rights prior to making statements to police and whether law enforcement employed coercive interview techniques which fail to comport with constitutional requirements.
Defenses utilized by an experienced homicide criminal defense attorney like Nellie L. King could also include an Alibi Defense. Fla. R.Crim.Pro. 3.200. Alibi defenses involve the defendant affirmatively asserting that they were at another location during the time the offense occurred and therefore had no involvement in the charged crime. Witnesses to crimes have been mistaken many times in the past or may have a motive to fabricate. Attorney Nellie L. King closely examines the witnesses’ motives, backgrounds, and physical and mental stability when they claim they observed the act to determine if they have any problems with their memory, eyesight, hearing, or whether they were under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
There are times when a person may be involved in a homicide, but may be improperly charged by the State with a more serious offense than they actually committed. For example, the State could improperly overcharge a person with First Degree Murder when the person’s actions at most constitute Manslaughter, a lesser charge. There are times that a death occurs by accident or misfortune, but the result of the death was not the result of the criminal act of another, even though the State accuses someone of being responsible. Attorney Nellie L. King evaluates the evidence in each case thoroughly to ascertain and assess the charges and evidence and therefore determine whether the client was improperly charged for a crime they did not commit.
Nellie L. King has represented people charged with Manslaughter, Murder, and Capital First Degree Murder where the State was seeking the Death Penalty. Ms. King has also mounted serious investigations into law enforcement misconduct when law enforcement protocols and the Constitution have been dispensed with in the name of the state clearing a crime by arrest and prosecution. Attorney Nellie L. King insists that the government be held to their burden of proof, particularly when the offense involves the life, or potential death, of her client.
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