First degree murder is proven when the State of Florida satisfies the following elements:
1) Victim is dead.
2) The death was caused by the criminal act of defendant.
3) There was a premeditated killing of victim.
The main difference between second degree murder and first degree murder is the element of premeditation.
Premeditation means that the killing occurs after the defendant consciously decides to do so. The decision to kill must be present at the time of the killing.
The law does not establish a fixed amount of time in which premeditation must occur. Premeditation can be only a couple of seconds. But it must be enough time for the defendant to consciously reflect upon the killing.
The question of premeditation is always a question of fact for a jury to determine. Given the seriousness of the charge, first degree murder cases almost always go to trial.
First degree murder is always handled by very experienced prosecutors. Many of these prosecutors handle nothing but homicide cases.
If you are charged with first degree murder, you will likely be held in custody without a bond.
I am a former prosecutor who practices criminal defense in Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
If you have a loved one who has been charged with first degree murder, call me to discuss the matter confidentially.