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Florida Second Degree Murder Laws

In Florida, state laws establish several types of homicide, the unlawful killing of a human being. The state prosecutes homicides as murders and manslaughters -- it may be helpful to know the multiple types of murders established by state law and understand the differences among them. In particular, second degree murder lacks the premeditation often required for the prosecution of a first degree murder. To prove second degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted according to a "depraved mind" without regard for human life.

Proving Second Degree Murder in Florida

To prove second degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted according to a "depraved mind" without regard for human life. Florida state laws permit the prosecution of second degree murder when the killing lacked premeditation or planning, but the defendant acted with enmity toward the victim or the two had an ongoing interaction or relationship. Unlike first degree murder, second degree murder does not necessarily require proof of the defendant's intent to kill.

Non-Premeditated Murder in the Commission of a Felony

State law specifically requires a charge of second degree murder if the victim dies during the commission of one of the felony crimes specified by statute. These felonies include burglary, home-invasion robbery, and a number of other offenses. To establish second degree murder, the prosecutor must show that the victim died as a result of an act committed by a non-participant in the felony. If the defendant or another criminal participant in the felony caused the unlawful killing, state law requires a charge of first degree murder rather than second degree murder. Florida uses this law to deter and punish unintended deaths as a result of felonious activities.

Florida Second Degree Murder Laws at a Glance


Florida Statutes Title XLVI. § 782.04, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Second Degree Murder

The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.

Second Degree Murder Sentences and Penalties
  • 1st degree felony (up to 30 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines)
  • 1st degree capital felony (possibility of the death penalty) when committed by someone perpetrating (or attempting to perpetrate) trafficking, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, aggravated elder abuse, aircraft piracy, use of an incendiary device, carjacking, home-invasion, aggravated stalking, murder of another individual, resisting an officer with violence, aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death, felony terrorism, or unlawful narcotics distribution. Charged as first degree murder.
  • 1st degree felony (up to life in prison) if, while in the commission of any of the above felonies, another individual (accomplice) commits murder. Charged as first degree murder.
  • 2nd degree felony (up to 15 years in prison) for attempted second degree murder resulting in injury to another person.
  • Justifiable use of deadly force to defend against a felony committed against a person or property
  • Excusable homicide committed by accident
  • Spontaneous or negligent killing that might qualify as manslaughter instead of murder

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Second Degree Murder Laws: Related Resources

Charged Under Florida Second Degree Murder Laws? Contact a Lawyer

Since the most serious second degree murder charge can result in the death penalty, getting the right legal representation is crucial to your defense. Regardless of which Florida criminal law you've been accused of violating, you always have the right to defend yourself in court. Get a head start on your case by contacting a criminal defense attorney in Florida today.

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