Homicide in Florida

Homicide is defined as the killing of one human being by another human being.

Though the words homicide and murder are used synonymously, the truth is the act of homicide is not always a crime, but the act of murder is.

Florida divides the illegal killing of a person into two categories of crimes:

The presence of Malice is the distinguishing characteristic that separates the crime of Murder from the crime of Manslaughter. [1]

Under the crime of Murder, a defendant must have intended to kill the victim or killed the victim out of ill will, hatred, or spite.

Under the crime of Manslaughter, a defendant need only have killed a person by an intentionally negligent act (Voluntary Manslaughter) or a recklessly negligent act (Involuntary Manslaughter).

Penalties for Homicide

The penalties for homicide depend on whether the death was the result of an intentional act, a reckless act, or a grossly dangerous act.

Defenses to Homicide

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to homicide crimes 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 murder or manslaughter 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.


  1. Brown v. State, 206 So. 2d 377, 380 (Fla. 1968)