Murder in the second-degree is a serious felony charge in Miami Dade County and is heavily penalized in the State of Florida. A defendant charged with second-degree murder is facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in the Florida prison system. Anyone charged with murder in the second-degree in Miami should seek immediate counsel with an experienced criminal attorney in Miami. At Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. we frequently defend clients charged with murder in the second degree and know what to expect in defending such cases. As former prosecutors, Christopher Pagan, Esq., and Julian Stroleny, Esq., have the experience required to successfully defend allegations of murder in the second-degree and will work hard to defend your case and make sure your rights are protected.
Second Degree Murder
Under Florida law, when someone is charged with murder, it is defined as the unlawful killing of another human being with “malice aforethought.” Meaning, the offender must have premeditated or thought about the homicide prior to the killing. However, unlike murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree does not need to be premeditated and the offender’s specific intent to kill may be sufficient for a conviction under Florida law. An example of murder in the second-degree may be a killing which occurred on the spur-of-the-moment.
A person who kills another acts with “malice” if he/she possesses any of the following four states of mind: (1) had the specific intent to kill a human being; (2) had the intent to inflict grievous bodily injury on another which results in death; (3) had a depraved mind; or (4) had the intent to commit a felony and during the commission or attempted commission of such felony a death results. In the absence of any of the defenses allotted to a murder crime (discussed below), these four mental states have one thing in common, each mental state indicates the offender’s extreme indifference to the value of a human life.
Notably, in Florida and Miami, a conviction of murder in the second-degree may result in a life imprisonment considering the surrounding aggravating circumstances of the crime.
Proving Intent to Kill
In an intentional killing, the State of Florida, through its prosecutors, has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the actual intent to kill a human being, rather than that a reasonable person in the offender’s shoes would have known that their conduct or behavior would result in death. For example, if A severely beats B with a baseball bat, causing B’s death, the prosecution will likely attempt to prove that A intended to kill B by displaying to the jury that A was an ordinary person and that the natural-and-probable consequence of such severe beating was B’s death.
When an individual kills a human being with a deadly weapon, such as a gun, establishing that the accused intended the result of his or her actions might be easier. This is because when the accused intentionally uses a deadly weapon against the body anatomy of another, the intention to kill is usually inferred or implied.
Defenses to Second Degree Murder
Because every murder case is unique in its own personal factors it is impossible to list all of the possible defenses to a murder charge in the second degree. However, below are some of the most popular defenses.
Justification (e.g., self-defense);
Excuse (e.g., insanity); or
Mitigating Circumstances (e.g., adequate provocation).
Murder in the second-degree is a serious offense that requires aggressive and competent representation. There may be defenses available to your scenario that must be analyzed and presented by a knowledgeable and experienced Miami criminal attorney. Give yourself the representation you so require, and obtain a defense attorney that truly cares about defending your rights and is willing to discuss the process with you every step of the way. Defenses to murder charges can be long and complicated, but with the proper legal representation the process can be significantly improved. Contacting a criminal defense attorney earlier on in the process ensures that you are not missing out from a defense that may not be allowed to be introduced later on in the process.
As former Miami Dade State Attorneys, Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. have defended hundreds of cases in Miami Dade County, from DUIs to violent homicides. Our office understands the severity and potential consequences that a criminal charge may have on an individual’s life or future, and we believe it is significant for everyone to understand the nature of the charges they face. This is so important that we offer free consultations for all potential clients, regardless of the criminal charges they face. Don’t go through this troubling time alone, contact us now for a free consultation and see what Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. can do to help you.