First degree murder is the most serious criminal offense you can be charged with because it can result in the death penalty, or a lifetime sentence in prison. As such, those accused of this crime will want to review the evidence and information being brought against them carefully to illuminate any flaws in the prosecution's presentation of the facts.
One of the most important points first degree murder defendants should consider is whether the prosecution can prove that the two elements of first degree murder in Florida are present in your case. Those two elements are:
- Willfulness: The prosecution needs to show that the accused intended to kill a person -- any person -- on purpose. Even if the accused wanted to kill someone else, and a different person died as a result, the intentional willfulness is present to satisfy this element.
- Deliberation or Premeditation: The other vital element involves the preplanning of the murder, or simply the chance to reconsider one's actions. If the person had enough time to deliberate and second guess his or her decision, and murdered in spite of this deliberation, then it is sufficient to satisfy this component.
If the prosecution can prove the above two factors beyond a reasonable doubt, then it's likely the charge of first degree murder can stick. However, there are two other scenarios in which a Florida resident can be convicted of murder of the first degree:
- Felony murder: When someone kills another person in the course of committing a felony level crime.
- Homicide while dealing drugs: When someone kills another person in the course of committing a drug dealing crime.
If you have been accused of murder, you may want to speak with a Florida criminal defense attorney about defending yourself against the allegations. Your defense lawyer will do everything he or she can to advocate on your behalf, reduce the chances of conviction and/or reduce your punishments if conviction is likely.
Source: FindLaw, "First Degree Murder Overview," accessed Oct. 27, 2017