Murder & Manslaughter

Jessica J. Travis has defendant all levels of Murder and is familiar with the defenses.

Defenses to Murder & Manslaughter:

  • Self-Defense: Degree of force used was reasonable to ward off force by another.
  • Stand Your Ground: See below.
  • Lack of proof as to identification: Conflicting witness descriptions, suggestive drive by or line-up identification procedures.
  • Alibi: Notice must be filed 10 days prior to trial and must list names and addresses of verifying witnesses.
  • Causation: Defendant’s conduct was not proximate cause of death. For example, DUI driver did not cause accident.
  • Lack of intent: Defendant did not intend to kill, engage in a felony or knowingly act recklessly.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, Florida Statutes, Section 776.013:

Self-defense allows a person to use a force to defend against imminent bodily harm or death.  However, the use must be reasonable:

  • The person’s belief that defensive conduct is necessary must be reasonable under the circumstances, and
  • The defensive conduct must be a reasonable degree of force in comparison to the threat.

Conversely, a person is NOT justified to use force if:

  • A reasonable person would not believe force is necessary, or
  • The force used is excessive.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law clarifies when it would be reasonable to use force:

  • Deadly force is presumed reasonable in scenarios involving unlawful entries into homes or vehicles.
  • There is no duty to retreat if the person being threatened with death or great bodily harm and is in a location where they have the right to be.

If a defendant is entitled to stand his ground, the case is dismissed and never makes it to jury trial.  If the Defendant loses his Stand Your Ground hearing, the case proceeds to jury trial where he can still claim self-defense.

Types of Murder & Manslaughter charges & Penalties

Common Florida Murder and Manslaughter charges and penalties are set forth below.  Note that if a firearm is used in the murder, Florida law requires a mandatory minimum (day for day) sentence of 25 years regardless of the below list.

  • Capital Murder: Capital felony carrying sentence of death or life in prison.
  • First Degree Premeditated Murder: Capital felony carrying sentence of death or life in prison.
  • First Degree Felony Murder – Defendant or accomplice kills victim while committing or attempting to commit a felony : Capital felony carrying sentence of death or life in prison.
  • Second Degree Murder (depraved heart murder – no intent to kill required): 1st degree felony carrying up to life in prison.
  • Manslaughter (intentional act of culpable negligence results in death – more than mere negligence): 2nd degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison. (If elderly, disabled or child, charge is Aggravated Manslaughter a 1st degree felony carrying up to 30 years in prison.
  • Vehicular Homicide (Reckless driver causes death of another): 2nd degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison. (But if driver fails to render aid or give information, charge is increased to 1st degree felony carrying up to 30 years.)
  • DUI Manslaughter (DUI driver causes death of another): 2nd degree felony with a minimum mandatory (day for day) sentence of 4 years/ carrying up to 15 years prison. (But if driver fails to render aid or give information, charge is increased to 1st

Note:  Florida laws are constantly changing.  Please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney to make sure you have the most up-to-date information about the crime, penalties and defenses that you are researching.  The information on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in making important decisions. 

Don’t face a murder charge alone.  Call The Travis Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation on Brevard County, Florida murder charges.  321-728-2780.