Florida’s courts take attempted murder charges very seriously, reserving some of their harshest penalties for people suspected of trying to take another person’s life. Oftentimes, an individual convicted of attempted murder faces the same penalties as someone who committed an actual homicide. If you, or a loved one, are being charged with attempted murder, you could face steep fines, a permanent criminal record, and life behind bars.

Understanding Attempted Murder Charges in Florida

Murder GavelFlorida defines “attempted” murder in relation to an individual’s actions and proximity to an unsuccessful homicide. Under Florida state law, an individual could be charged with attempted murder if prosecutors believe that they fit the following description:

  • Any person who perpetrates or attempts to perpetrate any felony enumerated in s. 782.04(3) and who commits, aids, or abets an intentional act that is not an essential element of the felony and that could, but does not, cause the death of another.

Florida, like many other states, has an intentionally “open” definition of what constitutes attempted murder. This is because prosecutors often wish to bring charges against anyone who was involved in the crime.

You might be surprised to learn that anyone suspected of “aiding” and “abetting” attempted murder could be charged with the same crime, even if they did not physically assault or harm an alleged victim. You could be charged with attempted murder if law enforcement believes that:

  • You transported an individual who attempted the murder to or from the scene of the crime
  • You participated in or aided an assault where another person tried to murder the victim
  • You knowingly contributed to or facilitated an act of attempted murder, even if you were not physically present at the crime scene or did not realize another individual had homicidal intent

First-Degree Attempted Murder

In Florida, a person is guilty of first-degree attempted murder if:

  • They carry out or attempt to kill another person in the course of a crime, such as arson, aggravated battery, sexual assault, burglary, or carjacking
  • They aid or abet an “intentional act that is not an essential element” of a felony that could, but does not, result in death

The penalties for first-degree attempted murder include:

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Life in prison with or without the possibility of parole

In order to prove first-degree attempted murder, prosecutors must ordinarily demonstrate that the acts of violence were premeditated and intended to cause death.

Second-Degree Attempted Murder

If the state cannot prove that an attempted murder was premeditated, they could still levy charges of second-degree attempted murder. A person could be found guilty of second-degree attempted murder if:

  • They injure another person in an act that could be considered attempted murder, but were not trying to commit murder
  • They did not premeditate the attempted murder but acted with callous disregard for human life in the commission of a crime that a reasonable person should understand has the potential to be deadly

The penalties for second-degree attempted murder include:

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Prison time of up to 15 years
  • Probation time of up to 15 years

Fighting an Attempted Murder Charge

Fighting an attempted murder charge can seem impossible, especially if you were arrested at or near the scene of a crime. However, the state may still struggle to secure a conviction. This is because a court will not hold someone liable for convicted murder unless prosecutors:

  1. Show that the suspect acted with malice
  2. Show that the suspect intended to commit, aid, or abet murder
  3. Show that the suspect’s violent acts were criminal

You always stand your best chance of acquittal when you consult an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney.

Your lawyer’s priority will be ensuring that all the charges against you are dismissed. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we could show the court that: 

  • You only acted violently to defend another person or persons
  • Law enforcement does not have enough evidence to prove you intended to kill someone or had premeditated the crime
  • You acted as any reasonable person would have in a dangerous or seemingly dangerous situation
  • You were acting in self-defense
  • External factors, such as a pre-existing mental illness, influenced your actions

Even if the case against you is strong, it is important to remember that prosecutors are elected officials. Oftentimes, their biggest concern is their conviction rate. Your lawyer could negotiate with the prosecutor to secure a plea bargain—a sort of legal deal where the charges against you will be seriously reduced to preserve the prosecutor’s conviction record. A plea bargain could help you avoid prison.

Contact Us Today

An attempted murder charge can change your life: even if you manage to avoid serious prison time, you could still spend years on probation, saddled with a permanent criminal record that makes finding a job, joining the military, or renting an apartment next-to-impossible.

When your freedom is at stake, you cannot afford to take risks—you need an experienced professional to aggressively advocate your case. Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense could help you overcome your charges, preserving your independence and protecting your future. Please send us a message online today to schedule a discreet consultation.

Have You Been Arrested For Murder in Florida?

If you've been arrested for murder in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.