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If you have been accused and/or charged with first degree murder (sometimes referred to capital murder) in the state of Florida, you are likely curious about the penalties and punishments for the crimes. Read ahead for valuable information that could affect you and your loved ones.

Remember – before you start worrying about the potential threats you are facing, ensure that you have expert representation by a criminal attorney experienced in first degree murder cases tried in Florida courtrooms.

What is first degree murder?

First degree murder is the most serious level of homicide, and is often regarded as the crime most likely to be punished with harsh sentences. This crime involves the premeditated and wilful killing of a victim (or victims) by a perpetrator who planned their attack and perhaps even lay in wait. These factors make first degree murder very different from manslaughter.

What are aggravating factors?

When considering your verdict and sentence, a judge will carefully assess all of the mitigating and/ or aggravating factors that occurred during or led to the crime in question. These vary dramatically state by state, but in Florida the aggravating factors (also known as felonies) are as listed below:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Distribution of hard drugs, such as cocaine and opium
  • Felony acts of terrorism
  • The murder was commissioned by another individual (i.e. ‘murder for hire’)
  • Arson or the attempt of arson
  • Sexual battery (sexual assault or rape)
  • Robbery (or a home invasion robbery)
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Kidnapping of a child or adult
  • Aggravated abuse of a child, elderly person, or of a disabled adult
  • Escaping incarceration
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Carjacking (stealing a car while someone else is inside driving)
  • Burglary
  • Gang activity
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Resisting an officer and causing violence to his or her person

These are all very serious crimes, and will likely cause you to be sentenced more harshly.

Life Sentences and the Death Penalty

The state of Florida is one of 31 states in the USA that still allow the death penalty as a punishment for first degree murder (along with the federal government at the US Armed Forces). This punishment is meted out carefully, and is generally used only for the most serious crimes.

In Florida, you must have committed one of the above aggravating felonies listed above to be a candidate for capital punishment. In addition to these factors, you can also be executed for your crime if:

  • It was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
  • It was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretence of moral or legal justification.

Mitigating factors

If you are eligible for capital punishment, the judge will also take several mitigating factors into consideration before determining your sentence. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Your age
  • Your mental capacity
  • Whether another person was equally responsible
  • Whether you committed the crime under duress
  • Whether you had any prior convictions for serious crimes
  • Whether your played a minor or major role in the crime

If any of these apply, you are likely to be sentenced instead to life in prison without parole. As you can see, it is very important that you seek the finest counsel possible. Contact the expert team at Grozinger Law, P.A.