Any unlawful killing is a felony offense in Florida, but your actions and intent can significantly affect the penalties for homicide. If you have been charged with manslaughter, a conviction could result in decades of imprisonment, thousands of dollars in fines, and irreparable damage to your career and reputation. With so much at stake, it’s imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Are There Different Types of Manslaughter in Florida?
Homicides are punished differently under the law, depending on a person’s motives and circumstances. In a murder charge, a defendant intentionally kills someone due to anger, potential financial benefit, or another demonstrated motive. On the other hand, manslaughter involves a death caused by a defendant’s reckless actions. Manslaughter is charged as a second-degree felony, meaning a defendant could serve up to 15 years in prison, 15 years on probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Under Florida Statute 782.07, a person could be charged with one of the following forms of manslaughter:
- Involuntary manslaughter. An unintentional death caused by negligent behavior or as a result of committing a crime may be charged as involuntary manslaughter.
- Voluntary manslaughter. If a defendant intended to kill the victim but did not plan the murder ahead of time, they would likely be charged with voluntary manslaughter. It differs from murder because it is typically a crime of passion involving inexcusable or unjustified actions, while murder is reserved for premeditated actions. Another form of voluntary manslaughter is manslaughter by procurement, which includes persuading or inducing a third party to commit an act intended to kill a victim.
- Vehicular manslaughter. If a defendant unintentionally killed someone with their car, they could face a charge of vehicular or DUI manslaughter. These charges often result from drunk driving, a reckless behavior likely to cause fatal accidents.
- Vessel manslaughter. Similar to traffic DUIs, a defendant can face manslaughter charges if someone causes fatal injury to another while boating under the influence.
Penalties for Aggravated Manslaughter in Florida
Depending on the factors involved, your offense could be upgraded to aggravated manslaughter. If convicted, you could be ordered to serve up to 30 years in prison, up to 30 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines. After serving your sentence, you could have your driver's license suspended or revoked or have to perform community service, all with the restrictions brought on by a permanent criminal record.
You could face enhanced penalties for felony manslaughter if the incident involved:
- Weapons or firearms. Manslaughter is a first-degree felony if the defendant was carrying or used a gun, knife, or another weapon during the commission of the crime.
- A vulnerable victim. If the victim is an older adult, disabled adult, or a child under 18, charges may be upgraded to a first-degree felony.\
- An officer or first responder. Any willfully negligent act that causes the death of a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or paramedic while they are in the course of their professional duties constitutes aggravated manslaughter.
- A hit and run. It’s a first-degree felony for the operator of a vehicle to fail to offer aid or provide their identification details at the scene of a crash if the operator knew, or should have known, that the accident occurred. Enhanced charges may apply to either vessel homicide or vehicular homicide.
Speak to a Homicide Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of manslaughter, every second counts. Once you have been arrested, the prosecution will begin building a case against you—and anything you say or do in these critical moments could be used as evidence against you at trial.
The only way to put this terrible incident behind you is to speak with an attorney who knows how to defeat these charges. The criminal defense team at Flaherty and Merrifield has fought for countless clients like you, and we offer free consultations and convenient payment plans to make justice accessible to everyone. Call 850-403-6835 today or fill out our contact form to learn more.
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