In the majority of states, including the state of Florida, first degree murder charges are defined as a killing that is unlawful and both premeditated and willful. This means that the murder was committed after a certain amount of time to plan it. Timing is frequently an important factor here.
What Constitutes First Degree Murder?
When a victim is murdered, states frequently categorize the murder as first or second degree. Typically speaking, a first degree murder charge will include three basic elements:
Time is Often the Determination for Premeditation
Often times, defendants are charged with first degree murder simply based on the time between a confrontation and the murder. The theory is that after an argument occurs if there is enough time for a defendant to go home to think about planning out the murder of the other person, then the murder was planned.
However, simply time alone should not be the only evidence that the murder was premeditated. A Miami criminal lawyer will look at the facts and determine whether it should be argued that the timing is insufficient to prove the killing of the victim was premeditated.
Another factor that comes into play when it comes to first degree murder is intent. It must be proven that the defendant had a specific intent to end a life. This intent may or may not correspond with the actual victim. If the defendant intends to kill, but murders the wrong person or a random person it would still constitute first degree murder. In addition, under Florida law killing someone through an action that shows a depraved indifference for human life can be considered as first degree murder.
Categories of First Degree Murders
The laws regarding murder in the first degree vary from state to state. There are some states that categorize certain types of killings as first degree. In these cases, the main elements of deliberation, premeditation, and intent to kill may not be necessary. Some of these categories include:
- Killing a child through unreasonable force
- Some killings as a result of a pattern of domestic abuse
- Killing an officer of the law
- Murders that occur during another crime such as rape, robbery, arson, or another type of violent crime.
Some states also categorize certain methods of murder as first degree. This includes torture, intentional poisonings, or murders that occur when a killer lays in wait or ambushes the victim.
A Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
First degree murder is one of the most serious offenses that you can be charged with and it comes with extremely harsh penalties. This is why it is important to contact an experienced Miami criminal lawyer for help. Miami criminal lawyers specialize in helping defendants fight their case and will provide you with all of the legal help that you need in order to get the best possible outcome on your case.
We handle a variety of criminal law cases, so call us now if you have any questions.
View more contact information here: Miami Criminal Lawyer.