First-degree murder under Florida Statute § 782.04(1)(a), can be proven in one of two ways:
The elements of premediated murder require proof that there was a killing after consciously deciding to do so. The most common defense in these types of homicide cases is that the defendant acted in the heat of passion on legally adequate provocation.
On the other hand, in a felony murder case, it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had a premeditated design or intent to kill. The felony murder statute does not require any proof of "premeditation."
In fact, the defendant can be convicted of felony murder in Florida even if the defendant did not actually kill the deceased when the defendant and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of a crime. Many felony murder charges involve an underlying crime of burglary, although the statute provides for a long list of crimes.
The criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. fight criminal charges for homicide, including premeditate or felony murder, throughout Palm Beach County and the surrounding areas in South Florida.
Contact us to learn more about the different ways that Florida classifies crimes related to homicide including both first-degree murder, second-degree murder, felony murder, and manslaughter.
Call (561) 283-3259 today.
The crime of first-degree felony murder is found in § 782.04(1)(a), Fla. Stat. To prove the crime of First Degree Felony Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
When the defendant was the person who actually killed the deceased, then it must be proven that the defendant was the person who actually killed the victim.
When the defendant was not the person who actually killed the deceased, then it must be proven that the victim was killed by a person other than the defendant, but both the defendant and the person who killed the victim were principals in the commission of the crime alleged.
To prove the crime of Second Degree Felony Murder, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's office must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
To prove the crime of Third Degree Felony Murder, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's office must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
It is not necessary for the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office to prove the killing was perpetrated with a design to effect death.
In Florida, a conviction for first-degree murder comes with one of two possible sentences:
The prosecutor might decide to waive the death penalty as a sentencing option. If such a waiver occurs, then the sentence after a conviction would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
If the state does not waive the imposition of the death penalty, then the court will conduct a separate sentencing hearing (called the "penalty phase") if a conviction for first-degree murder occurs at trial.
The statute, Florida Statute Section 782.04(2), provides a long list of crimes that can be perpetrated in a felony murder case including:
2. When committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
When instructing the jury on felony murder, it is essential that the underlying felony “be defined sufficiently to ensure the accused a fair trial.” Spagnolo v. State, 116 So.3d 599, 604 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013) (quoting State v. Jones, 377 So.2d 1163, 1164 (Fla. 1979) ); see also Tubman v. State, 633 So.2d 485, 485 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994) (recognizing error in failure to instruct on the underlying crime of robbery in connection with the offense of felony murder). Thus, on remand, the trial court must instruct the jury on robbery, the underlying felony for felony murder.
Section 782.04(2) Florida Statute - Find the murder statute in Florida what explains the penalties for the unlawful killing of another human being including when the crime is perpetrated from a premeditated design or when the crime is committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any of the designated felony offenses such as burglary. Learn more about Section 782.04(3) which prohibits the unlawful distribution of drugs when the substance is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user.
Under Florida law, there are two ways a person may commit First Degree Murder. The first way is First Degree Premeditated Murder. The second way is First Degree Felony Murder.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. in West Palm Beach, FL, are experienced in fighting a variety of difficult homicide cases including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter charges.
Call us to learn more about how Florida classifies different types of homicides including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter crimes.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.