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Third Degree Murder in Florida

While it’s commonly known that there are first and second degree murder charges, there is also the lesser known third degree. But what makes a murder fall under the categorization of the Third Degree? Believe it or not, it’s as simple as being found unintentionally killing a person while committing (or attempting) a non-violent felony.

There are exceptions to the rule, namely those involving controlled substances. For example, if you’re found selling drugs to another individual, and their death is found to be in some way caused by ingesting the drugs you provided to them, then there is an opportunity that the crime can be charged as a First Degree Murder.

What are the Penalties for the Third Degree?

According to Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, this charge is classified as a Second Degree Felony and is given a Level 8 offense severity ranking. If you’re found convicted, a judge is required to give a minimum sentence of ten years in prison, with the option of imposing any of the following in addition:

  • Up to fifteen years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Up to fifteen years of probation

What is the Defense?

As with most criminal cases, there are certain defenses that exist that an experienced attorney will be able to take advantage of to win your case. There are however some specific defenses that exist only for crimes of this type.

Excusable Homicide

While you may be thinking that there is no excuse for killing another human, there are in fact legal and lawful ways in which it is excusable. Any one of the following three qualify:

The killing in question was committed by accident while performing any lawful act with the proper caution, and without any unlawful intent
The killing in question occurs by accident in a moment of passion, and with any sudden and sufficient provocation OR The killing in question was committed by accident resulting from a sudden conflict in which there was no dangerous weapon used, and there was no instance of cruel or unusual manners

If you believe that your case qualifies as any of the above, then you can possibly take advantage of this form of defense.

Justifiable Homicide

There is a chance, depending on the situation, that your killing can be viewed as justifiable. The situation has to have unfolded in a manner where you are found resisting the victim as they were attempting to kill you or committing a crime against you. This is not to be confused with self defense.

Self Defense

As mentioned, this is close in definition to justifiable homicide, with the critical difference that there is a justification of deadly force. In addition, this defense can be used in crimes that qualify as Murders in the Second Degree.

If you’re facing charges for Third Degree Murder and believe that you have an opportunity for defense based on any of the above, then it’s in your best interest to seek out an experienced criminal lawyer who can best handle your case. Do not hesitate to call our offices, because time is precious, and your future is at stake.

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