When you are facing murder charges, the inarguable fact should be that a death has occurred. This should be indisputable. If this is not the case, there should never be a conviction. This is because, in order to place an accusation of guilt against someone to the level that they are sentenced and convicted, there must not be even an iota of doubt. So, assuming a death has occurred and a person is charged with murder, the degree in which the murder is classified can make a monumental difference when it comes to the sentencing phase.
While state laws may vary on the specifics, typically the difference between a first-degree and a second-degree murder charge involves the mental state of the accused at the time of the murder. Namely, whether or not the murder was planned.
First-degree murders are killings that required a plan and were subsequently carried out.
Generally, prosecutors do not need to demonstrate that there was any premeditation or planning on the part of the accused leading up to a charge of second-degree murder. Instead, a prosecutor can typically argue second-degree murder charges if they can prove the killing:
- Resulted from an act demonstrating the accused's deprivation regarding an apathy toward human life.
- Resulted from an impulsive act that was not premeditated, but included malice prior to the act.
- Resulted from an effort to cause significant physical injury.
If you are charged with first- or second-degree murder, you are looking at serious long-term consequences for your alleged actions. Your Florida attorney must work with you to establish a strong defense and in the case where there is not one, must determine how best to proceed.