Second Degree Murder Attorneys in Orlando, FL

Second Degree Murder in Florida – An Insight by an Experienced Orlando Attorney

Navigating the intricate landscape of Florida’s legal system can be daunting, especially when dealing with serious charges like Second Degree Murder. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the legal definitions and the elements involved in such charges. In this comprehensive overview, we’ll demystify the legalities surrounding Second Degree Murder in Florida.

In Florida, Second Degree Murder is explicitly defined under Sec. 782.04 of the Florida Statutes. The elements or conditions that must be met for a crime to be categorized as Second Degree Murder are as follows:

  1. Unpremeditated Killing with a Depraved Mind: If an individual ends another person’s life by undertaking an action that is inherently dangerous and displays a malign or depraved mind without having pre-planned the act of killing. This essentially means that while there was no initial intention or design to cause death, the act demonstrated a stark disregard for the sanctity of human life.
  2. Death During Certain Felonies by a Non-Participant: The statute also includes a scenario where an individual is in the process of committing, or attempting to commit, a specific set of felonies. If, during this act, another person is killed by someone not involved in committing the felony, it falls under Second Degree Murder. Some of the felonies highlighted in this context include:
    • Trafficking in Controlled Substances
    • Arson
    • Sexual Battery
    • Robbery and Home-invasion Robbery
    • Burglary
    • Kidnapping and Aircraft Piracy
    • Abuse of Minors, Elderly, or Disabled Individuals
    • Acts of Terrorism and Related Felonies
    • Various Others, including Carjacking, Stalking, Resisting an Officer with Violence, and more.

Nuances to Consider

While the above might seem straightforward, there is a critical distinction to make. The condition surrounding a death that occurs during the commission of the listed felonies is that the individual responsible for the death was not aiding or involved in the crime.

For instance, envision a situation where a law enforcement officer, in their attempt to stop a felony, unintentionally shoots a civilian bystander. In this case, the death is treated as Second Degree Murder. Conversely, if a collaborator or accomplice in the felony is the one responsible for the killing, all individuals involved in the crime are charged with First Degree Murder, as if they had personally committed the act of killing.

To sum up, the classification of Second Degree Murder in Florida is intricate, necessitating careful attention to the specifics of each case. It underscores the value of understanding the nuances of the law and the importance of legal representation by experienced professionals in such matters.

What are the Penalties for Second Degree Murder in Florida?

Second Degree Murder in Florida carries substantial penalties that reflect the gravity of the crime. It’s paramount to have a keen understanding of the ramifications if someone is found guilty. This article expands on the penalties in question, highlighting the nuanced aspects of sentencing.

Classification and Base Penalties

In the state of Florida, Second Degree Murder is regarded as a first-degree felony. This categorization underscores the severe nature of the crime. The base penalties for committing such a felony are:

    • Life Imprisonment: An individual found guilty can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
    • Financial Penalty: Alongside imprisonment, there’s also a significant monetary fine imposed, which can amount to as much as $10,000.

Penalty Description
Life Imprisonment Up to life imprisonment
Fine Up to $10,000

Severity Levels and the Criminal Punishment Code

The Florida Criminal Punishment Code utilizes a point system to evaluate the severity of criminal offenses. The total points an offense accrues dictates the minimum period of incarceration. For Second Degree Murder, the severity level varies based on the circumstances under which the crime was committed:

  1. Murder Committed with a Depraved Mind:
    • The charge carries a severity level of 10. This translates to an initial 116 points.
    • An additional 240 points are added to account for the victim’s death, resulting in a total of 356 points.
    • Without any additional aggravating circumstances, the accumulated points prescribe a minimum sentence of 246 months, equivalent to 20.5 years.
    • It’s crucial to note that a judge cannot award a sentence below this threshold unless there are specific, exceptional circumstances that warrant a “downward departure” from this minimum sentence.
  2. Murder Committed During Felonies:
    • If the murder was a result of another felony (as listed in the previous section), the severity level assigned is 9, which means the initial points are 92.
    • Just like with the previous scenario, 240 points are added due to the victim’s demise. This brings the total to 332 points.
    • In the absence of other aggravating factors, these points signify a minimum sentence of 228 months, or 19 years.

It is evident from the detailed breakdown that the penalties for Second Degree Murder in Florida are stringent. The point-based system ensures that the circumstances surrounding the crime are considered while determining the sentence. This highlights the state’s intention to proportionately penalize individuals based on the nature and gravity of their crimes. Understanding these intricacies is essential for anyone involved in such a case, whether as a defendant, a legal professional, or an observer.

How Can I Fight a Charge of Second-Degree Murder in Florida?

Defending oneself against a serious charge such as Second-Degree Murder in Florida requires an adept understanding of the available defenses, as well as an adept legal strategy. In Florida, there are several potential defenses that can be used to challenge such accusations. Let’s explore these avenues in more detail:

Self-Defense: Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

Florida has garnered attention for its robust self-defense laws, known colloquially as the “Stand Your Ground” laws. Some key points to consider are:

  • Origin & Purpose: Enacted in 2005, these laws were designed to empower individuals to defend themselves, or others, if they genuinely perceive an immediate threat of harm.
  • Deadly Force Authorization: Per Sec. 776.013 of the Florida Statutes, a person is sanctioned to use, or even just threaten to use, deadly force under circumstances where they reasonably think such force is essential to ward off imminent death, grave bodily harm, or a forcible felony.
  • Eliminating the ‘Duty to Retreat’: Prior to the introduction of these laws, there was an obligation, known as the “duty of retreat,” which mandated that a person facing assault must attempt to flee before resorting to self-defense. This obligation has since been eradicated. Presently, as long as an individual is lawfully present in a location, they have the right to defend themselves using appropriate force without any mandate to escape first.

Excusable Homicide: Not All Homicides Are Crimes

Another vital defense centers on the concept of “excusable homicide.” As stated in Section 782.03 of the Florida Statutes, a homicide can be deemed excusable under three distinct conditions:

  • Accidental Homicide with Lawful Conduct: If the killing happened by accident while the defendant was lawfully acting, showing ordinary caution, and devoid of malicious intent.
  • Accidental Homicide in the Heat of Passion: If the killing accidentally occurs in a passionate moment, following a sudden and legally valid provocation.
  • Homicide Upon Sudden Combat: If the homicide happens suddenly during a fight or combat, and the defendant didn’t employ a perilous weapon or display cruelty. Although such a defense might help in a criminal court, it’s worth noting that one might still face civil lawsuits for wrongful death.

Other Defensive Strategies:

  • Motion to Suppress: A frequent defense strategy involves filing a motion to suppress. This motion aims to discard evidence obtained in a manner that violates one’s constitutional rights.
  • Alibi Defense: Employing the alibi defense implies presenting proof that you were at a different location when the purported crime transpired, thus making your involvement implausible.

Relying on Experienced Representation:

At Leppard Law, we comprehend the gravity of Second-Degree Murder charges and the severe repercussions they bring. With a team of seasoned attorneys, we are equipped to employ the defenses outlined above, along with other potential strategies, to challenge the State’s accusations. Whether you’re confronting restraining orders, charges, or other legal predicaments, we’re here to stand with you, ensuring your rights are safeguarded and your defense is robustly presented.


1. What differentiates Second Degree Murder from First Degree Murder in Florida?

While Second Degree Murder involves unpremeditated killing with a depraved mind or a death resulting from certain felonies, First Degree Murder typically involves premeditated killing or a death that results from certain felonies wherein all accomplices can be held accountable.

2. Besides “Stand Your Ground” and “Excusable Homicide,” are there other defenses unique to Florida that can be used against Second Degree Murder charges?

Yes, Florida has various defenses, including Motion to Suppress, which seeks to exclude evidence violating constitutional rights, and the Alibi Defense, which asserts that the accused was elsewhere during the crime.

3. If someone is acquitted of Second Degree Murder charges, can they be tried again for the same crime?

No, due to the Double Jeopardy clause in the U.S. Constitution, an individual cannot be tried twice for the same crime once they’ve been acquitted.

4. Do all states have a point system similar to Florida’s when determining sentences for crimes like Second Degree Murder?

No, each state has its own sentencing guidelines and structures. Florida’s point system is unique to its Criminal Punishment Code.

5. Are there any post-trial remedies available if one is convicted of Second Degree Murder in Florida?

Yes, post-trial remedies can include appeals, post-conviction relief motions, and habeas corpus petitions. It’s crucial to consult with a legal professional to understand the best strategy post-conviction.

6. Can one switch attorneys during the trial process if they feel their representation is not adequate?

Yes, defendants have the right to competent representation. If they feel their attorney is not adequately representing them, they can seek to hire another attorney, although the court will need to approve the change, especially if it might delay proceedings.

Your Award-Winning Defense Awaits: Why Leppard Law Stands Out

Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming. You deserve an attorney who not only understands the intricacies of the law but also genuinely cares about you and your case. At Leppard Law, we’ve proven time and again why we’re the go-to for countless individuals in Orlando.

But accolades aside, our true reward lies in our relationships with our clients. We prioritize personal attention, ensuring you always have a staunch advocate by your side, who knows you as well as they know your case.

Experience the Leppard Law Difference: Don’t just rely on our achievements. Experience our dedication, expertise, and warmth firsthand. If you or a loved one are grappling with a criminal charge, reach out today. Let’s schedule your free consultation and start building your robust defense. We’re here, ready to guide, support, and defend.

Contact Leppard Law Criminal Lawyers at 407-476-4111 and begin the first step toward fighting for your freedom.

Our Actions Speak Louder

We will always have your back. Take a look at our recent victories and see for yourself.

A Culture of Excellence

Our carefully vetted legal experts carry a breadth of experience unlike any you’ll find.

Get a Free Case Evaluation

When you’re ready to talk, we’re here for you! Get your free consultation today.