Simply defined, a “homicide” is the killing of a human being by another person. Technically speaking, a homicide can occur under many different circumstances, ranging from a robber firing a gun at a clerk while holding up a convenience store to a drunk driver causing a fatal car crash. While not every act of homicide is punishable by law, there is usually a substantial consequence when one person takes someone else’s life, which means that consulting a criminal defense lawyer is a critical step to take. “Criminal homicide” takes many different forms, including murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide. The penalties can vary significantly, depending on the circumstances of the victim’s death. If you have been arrested on a homicide charge or are currently under investigation for such a crime, St. Petersburg and Clearwater homicide defense lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law can help you explore the possible legal options in your case.Homicide Convictions Lead to Significant Penalties Under Florida Law
The most egregious form of homicide in Florida is first-degree murder. Traditionally, a “murder” took place when there was a willful, deliberate killing by a person who had premeditation and malice aforethought. In modern times, however, first-degree murder can occur either when there is a premeditated killing in which the offender takes the life of another person through a pre-planned act or in cases of felony murder. A “felony murder” does not need to be an intentional killing, as long as the offender was engaged in the commission or attempted commission of one or more of the enumerated felony offenses set forth by statute at the time of the victim’s death. These offenses include (but are not limited to) robbery, trafficking in controlled substances, aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, burglary, carjacking, and resisting an officer with violence. A homicide defense attorney can help Clearwater and St. Petersburg residents determine whether they may be charged with felony murder.
Since Florida still has the death penalty, unlike some states, a person convicted of first-degree murder may be punished by death in some cases. The death penalty is more likely to be sought in cases in which there is an aggravating factor, such as a killing for pecuniary gain, an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel killing, a killing by a gang member, or a killing of a person under the age of 12. Since death penalty cases are challenging and time-consuming, however, sometimes the State of Florida waives the death penalty as a sentencing option and elects to pursue a life sentence instead.
In other homicide cases, a defendant may face as many as 30 years in prison for second-degree murder (“murder with a depraved mind” or being an accomplice to felony murder) or manslaughter. A sentence of up to 15 years of incarceration is possible for third-degree murder or vehicular homicide. Fines and probation may also apply. Criminal homicide convictions also result in the forfeiture of certain civil liberties, such as the right to own a gun, and the defendant will be labeled as a “convicted felon” for life.Talk to a Homicide Defense Lawyer in St. Petersburg or Clearwater
Homicide cases like murder, felony murder, and manslaughter are very complicated. Not every attorney has the experience or skill to defend such a case comprehensively. There can be many facts and circumstances that could result in excluding certain evidence, negating an element of the crime that the State is required to prove for a particular charge, or establishing a possible defense, such as necessity or self-defense. Experienced St. Petersburg and Clearwater homicide defense attorney Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law knows how much is at stake in a homicide case – your freedom, your future, and sometimes your life – and will work hard to formulate a strategy to reach a favorable outcome. Call us at 727.897.5413 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. You should always talk to a lawyer before talking to the authorities about a pending criminal matter or active investigation. Will Hanlon also represents people in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Newport Richey, and Dade City who need a manslaughter defense lawyer or advocacy in fighting charges of other violent crimes.