Manslaughter

Every person has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence. The defendant cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide.

In order to convict of manslaughter by an act, it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had an intent to cause death, only an intent to commit an act that was not merely negligent, justified, or excusable and which caused death. In some cases, the prosecutor can charge manslaughter for culpable negligence that is gross and flagrant.

Florida law provides for several different types of manslaughter charges including:

Attorney for Manslaughter in Palm Beach County, FL

If you were charged with manslaughter under Florida Statute § 782.07, contact a criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to discuss your case. In many of these cases, the defense is focused on showing that the homicide was excusable or justified.

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. are experienced in representing clients in a wide range of manslaughter cases including aggravated manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, and BUI manslaughter in West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County, as well as the surrounding areas in South Florida including Fort Lauderdale in Broward County and Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Call (561) 283-3259 today.


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Elements of Manslaughter Crimes

To prove the crime of manslaughter, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the victim is dead;
  • as to the cause, it must be proven that:
    • the defendant intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of the victim;
    • the defendant intentionally procured an act that caused the death of the victim; or
    • the death of the victim was caused by the culpable negligence of the defendant.

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Elements of Aggravated Manslaughter

To prove the crime of aggravated manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the victim is dead;
  • the death of the victim was caused by the culpable negligence of the defendant;
  • as to the cause, it must be proven that:
    • the victim was at the time an elderly person, a disabled adult or a child and the victim’s death was caused by the neglect of the defendant, a caregiver for the victim; 
    • the victim was an officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic who was at the time performing duties that were within the course of his or her employment.

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Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence in Florida

Florida law includes a concept known as "culpable negligence." Under this concept, every person has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence.

But culpable negligence is more than a failure to use ordinary care toward others. In order for negligence to be culpable, it must be gross and flagrant. Culpable negligence is a course of conduct showing:

  • reckless disregard of human life, or
  • reckless disregard of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects; or
  • such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences; or
  • such an entire want of care as to show wantonness or recklessness or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public;
  • such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.

The negligent act or omission must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others. Culpable negligence is consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.


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Assisting a Suicide is Manslaughter

According to § 782.08, Fla. Stat., assisting a suicide is Manslaughter. Any person who deliberately assists another in the commission of self-murder (suicide) shall be guilty of manslaughter, a felony of the second degree. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

Other types of manslaughter charges include Manslaughter under § 782.07, Fla. Stat., Aggravated Manslaughter under § 782.07(2), § 782.07(3), and § 782.07(4), Fla. Stat., Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Manslaughter under § 327.35(3)(a)(b)(c)3, Fla. Stat., and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Manslaughter under § 316.193(3)(a)(b)(c)3, Fla. Stat.


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Involuntary vs. Voluntary Manslaughter Crimes in Florida

In Florida, the law recognizes different types of manslaughter crimes including involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter.

  • Involuntary Manslaughter: When one person kills another without intending to do so, but through culpable negligence. “Culpable negligence” means showing a reckless disregard for human life, or behaving negligently with utter disregard for the safety of others. Involuntary manslaughter is a second-degree felony which is punishable by up to ten (10) years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The penalties are enhanced for aggravated involuntary manslaughter crimes that involve a victim is a child, an elderly person, a disabled adult, a police officer, a firefighter, or a paramedic.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: When one person intentionally kills another in the midst of a provocation, but without premeditation or reckless disregard for life (sometimes called “crime of passion”). Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

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