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The Florida Bar

First and Second Degree Murder

The most serious form of criminal homicide is first degree murder. Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale explain that in a typical case, first degree murder is both pre-meditated and intentional. Pre-meditated may refer to a short term plan or a long term plan to kill the victim. The intent of the murderer does not necessarily have to focus on the victim. If the murder intended to kill a particular victim, but accidentally killed another person, the murder is still considered to be pre-meditated and intentional. Under most state laws, a first degree murder is an unlawful killing that is both pre-meditated and willful, which means that the murderer had planned or was lying in wait to kill the victim.

Defense Lawyers in Florida explain that in a case of homicide where the killer lacked pre-meditation but had an intention to kill the victim, it may be considered second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

The charge will depend upon the laws of the particular state. Such killings are typically described as happening in the heat of the moment. Second degree murders are intentional killings that are not pre-planned or pre-meditated. Such killing must also be caused due to the killer’s lack of reasonable concern for human life and dangerous conduct, in order to be called second degree murder. Criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale may be able to offer legal advice to people accused of second degree murder.

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter refers to an unlawful killing that does not amount to murder According to Criminal Defense Lawyers Fort Lauderdale. Involuntary manslaughter is the lowest degree of manslaughter. In this case, the killer had no intention to kill any human being, but happened to kill the victim out of conduct that was either reckless or criminally negligent. A common example of involuntary manslaughter may be a DUI accident that kills a victim. In this type of a killing, the offender engaged in criminally negligent behavior by driving drunk, but had no intention to kill anyone.

Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, usually involves an intention to kill, but no intent prior to the moment of killing. In other words, such an offense may occur without any forethought and in the heat of passion. The circumstances surrounding the killing are the key in such case to determine the charge of voluntary manslaughter. If the circumstances were such that it was reasonable for the offender to become mentally disturbed or emotionally agitated, it may be considered a case of voluntary manslaughter. Offenders may seek legal assistance from criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale in such a case to establish their defense. If racist epithets or the threatening of someone else’s child was involved, this is reasonable that a normal person could become severely distraught and lash out.

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