Felony murder charges require a skilled criminal defense attorney. In mystery novels, a person who commits murder has usually carefully thought out their entire plan. They know not only who they want to kill and why, but also where, when, and how. If murderers were not so meticulous, there would be little need for all of those private detectives who are out there solving crimes in our favorite books.

But that sort of premeditated murder is not the only kind of murder a person can be charged within Florida. If a person is killed while you are committing or attempting to commit any of a number of other felonies, that’s considered felony murder. And the penalties for felony murder are just as harsh as the penalties for premeditated murder. 

What crimes can lead to a charge of felony murder? What, specifically, are the penalties if you are convicted? And what defenses might be available to you once you hire a skilled attorney to represent you? Let’s answer all of those questions.

The List of Felonies in Question

In Florida, a person commits felony murder when someone is killed during the commission of the following crimes:

  • Drug trafficking 
  • Arson
  • Sexual battery
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Escape
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Carjacking
  • Home invasion robbery
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Murder of another human being
  • Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person
  • Aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death
  • Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism 
  • Human trafficking
  • Unlawful distribution by a person 18 years of age or older of any substance or substances proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user

It is important to note that if a person is killed during the commission of one of the crimes above, everyone involved in the crime can be charged with felony murder. If you are the participant in a crime and someone else you are working with kills someone, you will likely be facing a felony murder charge even though you weren’t directly involved in the death. 

The Penalties for Felony Murder

In Florida, there are only two penalties for felony murder: life imprisonment without possibility of parole and the death penalty.

It goes without saying that the penalties cannot get any harsher than that. As a result, if you find yourself charged with felony murder, you absolutely must hire an attorney who will mount a forceful defense on your behalf. 

Defenses Against a Felony Murder Charge

In the case of felony murder charges, your defense will be likely centered on proving you were not involved in the felony that led to the murder. Only the felony itself can be fought in these kinds of cases—the murder is a given so your connection (or lack of connection) to the felony is the important piece of the puzzle.

In some cases, however, your best defense may be to demonstrate that while you were a participant in the felony in question, you were not involved in the murder in any way at all. Your attorney will listen to you, investigate the case in question, and suggest the best available defense for your specific situation.

With Stakes This High, You Want Experience and Expertise on Your Side

If you have been charged with felony murder, the lawyers of Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense are ready and able to create the best defense for your specific case. We have the experience and expertise required to make sure your rights are upheld and that your defense against the charges is vigorous. 

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.


Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney