Second degree murder is a serious felony wherein the State charges a person with the unlawful death of another.
Unlike first degree murder, premeditation is not required. That is, you are not required to think about killing the alleged victim in advance of actually doing it.
For this reason, second degree murder is punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Second degree murder cannot be considered capital murder (death penalty).
Florida law defines second degree murder as:
"The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life..."
In other words, second degree murder can be committed when somebody acts without regard for human life. Since no premeditation is required, typical "heat of the moment" situations such as an intense argument that escalates into violence can be considered second degree murder since the perpetrator did not have time to consciously reflect upon the crime.
Second degree murder is a first degree felony punishable by life (1st PBL). If a firearm is used, 10-20-Life applies and the crime becomes a life felony with a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Attempted second degree murder without a firearm is a second-degree felony. With the use of a firearm, it becomes a first-degree felony.
With or without a firearm, second degree murder is a non-bondable offense due to the fact that it is punishable by life.
It may be possible for a criminal attorney to obtain a bond for a person accused of second degree murder through an Arthur Hearing.
Like all crimes, second degree murder is defensible in certain situations. Many accused people may be able to assert self-defense, relying upon Florida's Stand Your Ground Law to demonstrate that the murder was excusable, and thereby lawful.
In the absence of strong and compelling evidence, it may be incumbent upon the defense lawyer to show that the police may have arrested the wrong person. Through depositions and then cross-examination at trial, a good criminal lawyer can expose weaknesses in the State's case, such as witness misidentification.
Second degree murder charges can come in a number of forms. In some instances, there are many independent witnesses, physical evidence, and possibly a confession to police.
In other situations, there may be unreliable witness statements and no physical evidence. In either situation, it is not uncommon for second degree murder cases to proceed to trial due to the fact that the plea offers from the State are typically too high to accept.
I have experience at the trial level when it comes to second degree murder. I understand that a great deal of work and diligence goes into the preparation and presentation of these cases.
I represent clients in Miami-Dade and Broward who have been charged with second degree murder.
If you are in need of legal representation, whether for yourself or for a loved one who may be sitting in jail without a bond due to these charges, call me to discuss the matter. My consultations can be done over the phone in complete confidence and without a fee.