Florida Statute § 782.07 defines manslaughter as the killing of another person without premeditated malice. This means that the act of killing may have been intentional, but it was not planned.
Murder vs. Manslaughter: The Difference
There are several differences between manslaughter and other forms of homicide, such as murder. Murder involves the killing of another person with malice aforethought, meaning there was an intent to kill or cause serious harm. Manslaughter, as we mentioned, is usually characterized by a lack of premeditation or intent to kill.
Are There Different Types of Manslaughter in FL?
Yes. There are different forms of manslaughter charges depending on the specifics of the alleged crime: voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, and aggravated manslaughter.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills another person because of provocation or in the heat of the moment. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills another person unintentionally while committing an act that is neither inherently dangerous nor a felony offense. Involuntary manslaughter may also occur if a person kills another person while committing a lawful act in a negligent manner or excessive force during self-defense.
It is important to note that Florida law does not differentiate between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. However, the court will often consider whether the act was voluntary or involuntary during sentencing.
Manslaughter is a second-degree felony. In Florida, a second-degree felony is up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you cause bodily harm or death while driving or operating a motor vehicle or watercraft in Florida, you could face charges criminal charges. However, these charges fall under two categories:
Vehicular homicide. Defined under Florida Statute § 782.071, this offense occurs when someone causes the death of another person (or an unborn fetus) while operating a vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner. This offense is a second-degree felony and can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the person does not offer aid and leaves before giving their information and should have known that an accident occurred (i.e. commits a hit and run).
DUI manslaughter. If someone is killed in an accident where a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they could face DUI manslaughter charges. Under Florida Statute § 316.193(1) and (3)(c)(3), it is illegal to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher and cause the death of another person, or if their faculties are inhibited and they are in actual physical control of a vehicle. Even if you did not mean to harm another person, you can still be charged with DUI manslaughter, which is a felony of the second degree.
Aggravated manslaughter, on the other hand, is a more severe form of manslaughter that occurs when the killing involves certain elements or factors that make it more egregious. These factors include committing the offense against a(n):
elderly person or disabled adult,
emergency medical technician, or
For instance, if a caregiver causes the death of a child under the age of 18 by culpable negligence, that would qualify as aggravated manslaughter of a child under Florida statute 782.07(3). The penalty for aggravated manslaughter is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine in some cases.
Defending Against Manslaughter Charges in FL
To prove manslaughter, the prosecutor must show that the defendant caused the death of another person and that they did so either:
with intent to cause harm, but without premeditation,
in the course of committing a non-felony crime, or
through culpable negligence (i.e. a disregard for human life and an indifference to the consequences of one’s actions).
There are several defenses that may be used in manslaughter cases in Florida, including:
Self-defense. You can argue that you used justifiable force to defend yourself or others against others.
Accident. If you are being accused of having committed involuntary manslaughter, you can argue that you did not act recklessly or negligently, which negates the argument that you caused someone’s death through culpable negligence.
Insufficient evidence. You can argue that the prosecution lacks evidence to prove that the accused was the perpetrator of the act.
Here to Help You Mount a Solid Defense
If you or someone you know is facing manslaughter charges in Florida, it is essential to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review your case and identify possible defenses to help mitigate or dismiss the charges against you. At The Wiseman Law Firm, our attorney is equipped to help clients develop personalized defense strategies and work to obtain the best possible case results.
Get started on your case today! Call 407-420-4647 to schedule an initial consultation.