Criminal Defense Lawyer in Miami Protecting the Rights of the Accused
Homicide is the most serious of all crimes in Florida. Under Florida law, first-degree murder is the only crime that makes a convicted defendant eligible for the death penalty. The law considers death to be the ultimate government invasion into constitutional rights. There are, therefore, legal safeguards in place to ensure that courts do not impose the death penalty without due process. There are also extensive legal protections for second-degree murder and manslaughter charges – all of which are also homicide – because they, too, carry extensive punishments. It is therefore vital that any defendant charged with homicide is represented by an experienced homicide attorney in Miami.
The Miami criminal defense attorney of Stroleny Law, P.A. represents defendants charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. Our lawyer is highly skilled in protecting defendants’ legal rights throughout the criminal process. This includes the initial investigation, the charging and pretrial processes, during trial, and during appeals and other post-conviction matters. Call (305) 615-1285 today to schedule a free phone consultation.
What is a Homicide?
Homicide is a category of crimes that encompasses both murder and manslaughter. Murder is the more serious offense, and it covers acts that are premeditated or occur during the commission of a dangerous felony. Manslaughter is the lesser charge for deaths that occurred as the result of an act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another. For more information about manslaughter, please see our web pages on voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Section 782.04 of the Florida Statutes classifies murder into first-degree murder (which is a capital offense subject to the death penalty) and second-degree murder (which is punishable by a life term in prison). First-degree murder can happen in two ways: first, by a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being. This means that the defendant took the time to make a plan that would result in another person’s death, and considered this plan before it was put into effect. This type of murder is considered to be most egregious because the defendant took the time to consider the plan, put it into action, and deliberately cause the death of another human being.
The second way to commit first-degree murder is when the defendant is engaging – or attempting to engage in – the commission of a specified dangerous felony. The statute lists these felonies, which include: drug trafficking, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, aggravated stalking, murder of another human being, resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death, acts of terrorism, human trafficking; or the unlawful distribution of prohibited drug substances. These acts constitute Florida’s version of the “felony murder rule.” This rule creates more severe punishments for deaths that were caused during the commission of a dangerous felony. These deaths are considered to be most egregious because of the defendant’s choice to commit the underlying dangerous felony (regardless of whether he or she intended a death to occur during the commission of that felony).
Section 782.071 of the Florida Statutes creates a separate homicide crime for those deaths caused by a vehicle. It is defined as the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child 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 unless the driver failed to give information and render aid (and knew or should have known the accident occurred). If the driver fails to give information or render aid, vehicular homicide can be charged as a first-degree felony.
Notice that vehicular homicide does not require an intent to kill. The driver does not even have to know that the accident resulted in injury or death. Rather, the focus is on the driver’s choice to operate a motor vehicle in a reckless manner that could cause injury or death to others. This is why vehicular homicide is a common charge in DUI accidents that result in a death. Interestingly, the Statute also allows a judge to add a unique provision to the sentence of a defendant convicted of vehicular homicide. In addition to fines, fees, and jail time, the defendant may also be sentenced to community service in a trauma center or hospital that serves victims of vehicle accidents. This unique provision is evidence of the state Legislature’s intent to make defendants aware of the consequences of reckless driving.
It is also important to understand that vehicular homicide does not occur simply because someone was negligently operating a motor vehicle and another person died as a result. The Statute has a heightened standard of negligence that is severe enough to be likely to cause severe injury or death. If the driver was merely negligent, this may not be enough to sustain a criminal charge. This is a case in which the defendant’s criminal attorney could move to dismiss the charges altogether. As with any homicide charges, the legal standard for conviction is high by design. It is important to consult with an experienced Miami homicide attorney to determine whether your charges should be dismissed.
Protect Your Legal Rights During a Homicide Investigation with the Advice of an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney
Serious charges require serious legal expertise. Don’t try to handle serious charges on your own – the experienced homicide attorney of Stroleny Law, P.A. can help to protect your constitutional rights at all stages of criminal proceedings. During an initial investigation, charging, plea negotiations, trial, on appeal, or during other post-conviction matters, he will fight hard to protect his clients from violations of their legal rights. He can help to secure dismissals for inappropriate charges brought without sufficient evidence. He can help his clients reject unfair plea offers and bring their cases to trial. Our experienced attorney has represented defendants in state and federal courts across the state of Florida, and he can help you, too. Call (305) 615-1285 for a free phone consultation as soon as possible.
Stroleny Law, P.A. handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions.