Murder or Homicide Charges in South Florida

South Florida Defense Attorney Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. Can Help

If you kill a person, you can be arrested and charged with homicide. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed to jail. In every jurisdiction in Florida, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, circumstance plays a huge role in the criminal implications of the taking of another human life, and defense attorney Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. can help you comb the legal waters and put forth a winning defense strategy.

When someone is killed as a result of self-defense, the death can be considered justifiable and the defendant escapes jail time. In other instances, homicide is considered murder, which can result in severe penalties including life in prison or the death penalty. But even homicides, paired with other facts of the case and nature of the crime will be viewed in a variety of lights by the court. If you’ve been accused, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of the charge and has the experience and resources to put forth a defense strategy that will either prove your innocence or position you for the least severe sentence possible should you be convicted.

When Deadly Force is Justified

If you’re in a situation where someone is trying to kill you or commit another felony upon you, and you react in a way that causes the death of your perpetrator, a defense of justifiable deadly force may be appropriate. Criminal defense attorney Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. can help build a case of justified deadly force when:

  • The death occurred when you fought back or resisted an attack
  • If the death occurred when you were defending another person, especially if that person is a member of a protected class
  • Someone is trying to murder you and you fight back
  • When someone is killed while attempting to commit a felony upon your dwelling.
Call Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. at 305-377-1777 to discuss the possibility of a justifiable deadly force defense.

When Homicide is Excusable

Accidents happen all the time, even when law-abiding individuals are carefully participating in law-abiding actions. The homicide may be excusable if someone dies under these following circumstances:

  • Without unlawful intent
  • Without the use of deadly weapons
  • In the heat of passion
  • With extreme provocation
  • Not in a cruel or unusual manner
Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. is experienced in building excusable homicide defenses. Call 305-377-1777 to discuss.

When a Death is a Murder

The legal definition of murder is the unlawful killing of a human being. Like many other serious crimes, however, it’s a label with varying shades of complexity, and a large range of penalties. Criminal defense attorney Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. has 30 years of experience litigating such cases in South Florida, from his Miami offices. Call 305-377-1777 to discuss your murder arrest.

First Degree – The Most Serious Charge

First degree murder is the most serious of the murder charges. According to the laws of the state of Florida, an unlawful killing is considered first degree murder if the death is intentional and executed with prior thought and planning. If a death occurs – even accidently – when a person is trying to commit another serious offense it can be considered first degree as well. Examples of these crimes include terrorism, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, arson, burglary, robbery, home invasions, carjacking, aircraft piracy, drug trafficking, resisting a law enforcement official with violence or the placement, throwing or discharge of a device such as a bomb. A first-degree murder conviction may result in a sentence of life imprisonment or death.

Second-Degree – Lack of Intention

A murder in the second degree is the unlawful killing of a human being when an element of lack of intention is in play. For instance, if the death was not intentional or premeditated, it can be considered murder in the second degree, as opposed to murder in the first degree, which carries a heftier punishment. Typically, in the state of Florida, a second degree murder conviction results in a term of years, not to exceed life in prison, and not capital punishment. If the death was caused by an action that displays a blatant disregard for human life, even if it occurs without forethought and by mistake, it is considered second degree murder. Sometimes a homicide is considered second degree murder if it occurs while another serious felony is happening – such as drug trafficking, prison escape, home-invasion robbery, robbery, burglary, arson, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, terrorism, unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device such as a bomb.

Third-Degree – An Element of Separation

While third-degree murder often results in less severe consequences than first or second-degree murder convictions do, it’s still a serious offense, technically called a felony in the second degree. Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. may consider a third-degree murder defense when a person is killed unlawfully, but the perpetrator had no intention to cause that particular individual’s death or if that death occurs during the course of a felony not described above in the second-degree murder definition. A murder is also considered third-degree when the death is unintentional and took place while you – at age 18 or older - were distributing or attempting to distribute a controlled substance (cocaine, opium, synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative or preparation of opium) or when that controlled substance caused the death of the user.

Attempted Felony Murder

If you’re involved in a felony – even if the crime doesn’t actually take place or if you’re not the perpetrator – you can be charged with attempted felony murder if the felony could have caused the death of someone. All you need to do is support or encourage the felony to be convicted of this first degree charge.

When a partner in the crime injures another person while a felony is taking place or attempting to take place, you can be convicted of attempted felony murder in the second degree.

Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. understands the nuances between these serious charges and is prepared to defend you aggressively against them. 305-377-1777.

Murder Without Intent

On a basic level, murder without intent to kill is considered manslaughter. However, just because a death was an intended result of your action or culpable negligence doesn’t mean it’s not a serious offense, nor does it qualify as an excusable homicide. Punishment for manslaughter convictions can mean dozens of years of prison time.

In some instances, manslaughter is a first-degree felony. For example, should you cause the death of an elderly individual, disabled adult or person under age 18 as a result of negligence, the crime is considered first degree manslaughter. If negligence kills a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician while he or she is working, that death is considered a first degree felony by the State of Florida.

When Death is Caused by a Car

When you’re driving a car or other motor vehicle recklessly and a person is killed, you can be charged with vehicular homicide – a first or second-degree felony that is punishable by a prison sentence, fines and/or community service. If the person who died was an expectant mother whose fetus had reached the point where it could live outside the womb, you may face a second count of vehicular homicide. Intent to kill is not a necessary component for a conviction of this type of crime – in fact, attempted vehicular homicide is not a crime at all in Florida. If you operate a car, motorcycle, truck or any other motorized vehicle recklessly and someone dies, you can face a vehicular homicide conviction.

Vehicular homicide becomes a first-degree felony – the kind that faces the most stringent punishment – if you don’t attempt to help the injured party, leave the scene or fail to provide information about the accident, even if you are not aware that someone has died in the accident.

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident, especially one in which someone has died, don’t delay contacting an experienced criminal lawyer. Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. has successfully litigated similar cases for nearly 30 years and he can provide the defense you need. 305-377-1777.

Boat or Aircraft Accident that Causes Death

If you operate a boat or aircraft either for business or pleasure, then you should be aware of the nuances of vessel homicide. In the State of Florida, if you’re in an "vessel" accident – one that involves a boat or aircraft – and you fail to offer aid or provide information of the incident, you can be charged with first-degree vessel homicide, which is a second-degree felony otherwise – even if you were unaware that a death or injury occurred. All you need to have done is operate or be in control of the navigation of a vessel on a Florida lake, ocean, canal or river, or steer one vessel being towed by another when a death occurs in a reckless manner. Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. can examine the details of your incident and mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. 305-377-1777.

Suicide and its Consequences

When an individual commits suicide – or self-murder, which is the legal term – anyone who helps the act take place can be charged with attempted self-murder, which is considered manslaughter, a second-degree felony, even if the attempt does not result in a death. A conviction can be obtained if you encourage or advocate another to commit suicide, aid, abet, facilitate or permit the attempt to take place.

You can be charged and convicted of the commercial exploitation of self-murder in Florida if you take measures to commercialize any event that might result in a suicide or attempted suicide. That conviction would be a third-degree felony, which carries significant consequences. Examples of the commercial exploitation of self-murder include booking an arena or other public platform for the event, scheduling an event, driving participants or spectators to and from the location or providing security around someone’s attempt to kill him or herself. Charging admission, advertising or publicizing an event that may result in a charge of the commercial exploitation of self-murder, and is a third-degree felony.

One area of suicide that the State of Florida does not regulate is simulated self-murder. Participating in a theatrical production or depicting in a work or art or literature a simulated self-murder take place is not illegal as long as there is no actual death or attempted death that occurs.

When Injury to a Pregnant Woman Results in the Death of Her Unborn Child

If you’ve injured or killed a pregnant woman and that action results in the death of her unborn child, you may face additional charges, which can be as serious as the charges resulting in the action against the mother. For instance, if you murder a woman and her pregnancy ends with the death of her fetus, then you can be charged with a first-degree murder of the baby as well as the mother. Should the mother be injured and the injuries result in the death of her unborn baby, the perpetrator can be charged with manslaughter.

These Florida laws do not apply to a mother who terminates her own pregnancy or the medical professionals who facilitate the termination.

When Stopping an Illegal Act Causes a Death

If you encounter someone attempting to commit a felony and you attempt to stop them, and, in the process, unnecessarily kill them, you can be convicted of a second-degree felony called manslaughter.

Serious Charges – Murder, Homicide, Manslaughter and Suicide – Demand an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to Explore Your Legal Rights. In Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida, Lehr Levi & Mendez, P.A. is That Attorney. Call 305-377-1777 today.