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First Degree Murder in Florida

If accused of First Degree Murder in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of First Degree Murder

The crime of First Degree Murder occurs when a person commits either:

Premeditated Murder

Premeditated murder occurs when a person kills another human being pursuant to a pre-planned act or scheme.

Felony Murder

Felony murder occurs when a person kills another human being while engaged in the commission, or attempted commission, of the following statutorily enumerated felonies, regardless of whether they intended to kill anybody:

Penalties for First Degree Murder

The crime of First Degree Murder is designated a Capital Offense and only has two possible sentences:

  • Death, or
  • Life without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutorial Waiver of the Death Penalty

The State has the option to waive the death penalty as a sentencing option and elect to seek just Life in prison.

In those cases in which they waive the death penalty as a sentencing option, a person convicted of First Degree Murder will be sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole upon conviction.

Penalty Phase Proceedings

If the State does not waive the imposition of the death penalty and a defendant is convicted of First Degree Murder, the court will then conduct a separate sentencing proceeding to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. This separate proceeding is known as the Penalty Phase.

Defenses to First Degree Murder

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of First Degree Murder are:

Excusable Homicide

The killing of a human being is excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the following three circumstances:

  • When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, or
  • When the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or
  • When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

Justifiable Homicide

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if done while resisting an attempt by someone to kill you or to commit a felony against you.

Self Defense

Also known as the justified use of deadly force, self defense is a defense to the crime of First Degree Murder. Please view the section on Self Defense in Florida for more information.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of First Degree Murder in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.