Second Degree Murder

Unlike voluntary manslaughter, Second Degree Murder is the killing of another human with the difference being that it was an intentional act performed with malice. The difference between second degree murder and murder in the first degree is the absence of premeditation. Whereas voluntary manslaughter can be a spontaneous act as a result of an immediate confrontation, second degree murder is usually charged depending on the mental state of the suspect when the killing takes place.

An example of this charge would be:
Tom goes to a nightclub with his girlfriend. When Tom momentarily leaves to use the bathroom Frank, another patron, asks Tom's girlfriend to dance. Coming out of the restroom, Tom sees Frank interacting with his girlfriend. Becoming upset by the situation Frank confronts Tom by yelling at him and pushes him away. Tom and Frank continue to argue until Frank backs down and walks away, although yelling profanities at Tom as he leaves.

A few hours go by and Tom and his girlfriend leave the club. When Tom gets in his car he sees Frank standing in the street talking to a group of people and intentionally drives in his direction. Franks also see Tom in his car moving his way and starts yelling at the approaching vehicle. Tom takes a gun that was in his glove compartment and fires it at the group either killing Frank or any of the persons from the group which Frank was a part of.

Tom did not plan these actions with aforethought, but upon seeing Frank became agitated recalling the prior interaction and decided to hurt or possibly kill Frank at this point. His prior interaction with Frank left him with a sentiment of animosity toward him. The actions of Tom were a direct result of the previous altercation even though many hours had passed since the original hostility. Although there was no premeditation, there was malice when he fired the gun. Tom had no fear or reason to believe that Frank was a threat of any kind to him or anyone else in his vehicle for causing bodily harm or putting the life of any occupants of the vehicle in danger.

Once law enforcement was summoned to the scene, Tom was arrested facing a charge of murder in the second degree. Because there were witnesses to the shooting, the prosecution would have a strong case to substantiate the charge, as long as the actions as described above were found to be accurate.

Presuming the case goes to trial, if additional independent witnesses came forward on behalf of the defense that offered conflicting testimony stating that as Tom's vehicle was approaching the group, Frank or another from the group aimed or fired a lethal weapon at Tom's car as it approached the group, the result could be determined to be a justifiable homicide. This of course would be up to a jury's findings based on all evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense.

No matter which of the above scenarios is closest to what actually happened it is vital that once an attorney is retained they are informed by their client of all the actualities of what occurred. Leaving significant details out of what is revealed to an attorney can only come back to hurt a planned defense as a case progresses. All communications between a client and his attorney are privileged so there should never be a reason to tell them anything but the truth without holding back any details.

When I am hired to defend a client facing murder charges I have many investigative tools at my disposal and am privy to view and dissect all evidence the prosecution has at hand. The process of sharing all evidence is mandatory and is made available to me during the phase known as discovery.

Perhaps a traffic camera picked up a muzzle flash coming from the area where Frank and the group was standing; not immediately known by the prosecution but added to the pool of evidence after being uncovered through my investigation. A piece of evidence of this nature can drastically change the judgment of the prosecution and in essence the jury's view and final decision based on the events that actually transpired based on all the evidence presented.

If evidence does not point in our favor, my many years of experience in these types of cases will always make available to my client the best options if a plea is offered by the prosecution. But keep in mind, the prosecution must always prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Under sentencing guidelines Florida has a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of incarceration for a conviction of Second Degree Murder. This minimum sentence would be taking into consideration that the convicted person has not had prior felony convictions; basically, a clean record. In the case where a firearm is used the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years and can inflate to a lifetime sentence if the prosecution chooses to follow that suggestion to the court.  

Retaining my services at the earliest point of a murder investigation can always render the best outcome no matter what the evidence suggests.

Through more than thirty-five years of courtroom experience for prosecuting murder cases earlier in my career and now defending persons charged with this crime has placed me in the most beneficial position to provide the best possible defense for these types of charges.

As a proficient criminal defense attorney, my perception of how the prosecution will advance a murder case as well as the many contacts that I've made in the state and federal prosecutor's office has given me the proper implements to contest all allegations laid out by the opposing side whether charges are pursued by the State of Florida or the federal government.

If you, a friend or loved one is facing charges for Second Degree Murder, my office can provide the skilled representation that's essential to provide the best outcome of a case.

Call directly at any of the phone numbers displayed at the top or bottom of each page of this Website or fill out the short contact form also found on each page or the detailed form by clicking this link. The earliest point that contact is made the better chance I have of returning the best possible outcome by building a strong defense to all charges alleged.