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Florida Voluntary Manslaughter Laws

Overview of Florida Voluntary Manslaughter Laws

Florida state laws establish the criminal offense of manslaughter when a homicide, the killing of a human being, does not meet the legal definition of murder. Manslaughter, unlike murder, does not require evidence of the defendant's premeditation or "depraved mind" with disregard for human life; instead, the state requires proof of either voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

The crime of voluntary manslaughter describes a homicide intentionally committed while in the midst of a provocation. The prosecutor must show a sudden, unexpected event or circumstance serving as a provocation. As a result of the provocation, the defendant must have felt a temporary anger, heat of passion, or emotion that immediately resulted in an intent to kill or an intent to commit the act that resulted in the victim's death.

Besides establishing the provocation and the defendant's intent, the prosecutor must also establish the defendant's act as the cause of the victim's death.

Below you will find important information about Florida voluntary manslaughter laws including possible penalties, available defenses, and where to go if you need the assistance of an attorney.


Florida Statutes Section 782.02-782.36

Penalties and Sentences for Voluntary Manslaughter

Florida prosecutes manslaughter as a second degree felony, which may result in a term of imprisonment for up to fifteen years, a fine of an amount up to $10,000, or both. There is a mandatory minimum of 9 ¼ years if convicted.

Aggravated Manslaughter: (manslaughter of a child or elderly person, for example) state law treats the offense as a first degree felony, which increases the potential term of imprisonment to a maximum of thirty years.

Note: Florida laws also allow the state to consider the defendant's criminal history and determine whether the defendant is a career criminal or habitual violent offender; if so, the state may be able to increase the defendant's punishment.

Special Considerations

Manslaughter With a Weapon or Firearm

  • When voluntary manslaughter occurs and the defendant used a weapon or firearm, the charge is no longer considered to be a second degree felony; instead, it is classified as a more serious first degree felony. In this instance, it is up to the jury in the State of Florida to decide if a weapon or firearm had actually been used in the killing.

Possible Defenses

  • Justifiable use of deadly force to defend against a felony committed against a person or property
  • Excusable homicide committed by accident

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Help with Your Voluntary Manslaughter Case in Florida

The loss of someone’s life is always taken seriously by judges, juries, and attorneys alike. While you may be innocent or have a great defense, conveying that to a judge or jury isn’t easy. If you've been charged under Florida's voluntary manslaughter laws, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help prepare your defense and advocate on your behalf.

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