Orlando First Degree Murder Lawyer

As leading criminal defense attorneys in Central Florida, we have the years of experience, expertise, and resources needed to help you navigate serious criminal charges, including for first-degree murder. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation. 

Few criminal charges are as high-stakes or shocking as first-degree murder charges, which is why they are featured in so many television dramas, movies, and books. However, for the accused, these accusations are anything but entertaining. A first-degree murder conviction carries life-altering consequences and penalties that most people never fully recover from. 

The good news is that you’re not alone in the fight. The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense are here to help you secure the best possible outcome for your case. This article will explain everything you need to know about first-degree murder charges in Florida, including degrees of murder, common legal defenses, possible penalties, and more. 

Have You Been Accused of First Degree Murder in Florida?

title decoration line

Remember: Just because you’ve been charged with first-degree murder does not mean you’re guilty of committing it. If you’ve been charged with this serious criminal offense, you need to do everything you can to avoid conviction, whether it involves being found innocent in a court of law, getting the charges reduced, or working to get them dismissed altogether.

How Our Orlando Murder Lawyers Can Help Defend You

Our Orlando murder lawyers can perform several key tasks to help you avoid conviction. We’ll start by conducting a thorough investigation to gather crucial evidence, including witness statements, surveillance footage, and forensic analysis, to support claims of self-defense or other justifiable circumstances. We will meticulously review police reports and legal precedents, evaluate your mental state, and collaborate with forensic and psychological experts. We will do everything in our power to build a robust defense strategy that challenges the prosecution’s evidence and protects your rights.

How We Determine Whether Justifiable Circumstances Existed

If we can establish that your case involves justifiable circumstances, you stand a good chance of avoiding a first-degree murder conviction. A criminal defense lawyer plays a crucial role in defending a client accused of first-degree murder by determining whether justifiable circumstances existed. Here are a few of the key steps we take:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation and examination of evidence
  • Assessing self-defense claims, analyzing the threat and the response
  • Evaluating whether your criminal case meets criteria for Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law
  • Examining your mental state and intent at the time of the incident
  • Identifying justifiable homicide by assessing whether you were trying to prevent a felony or protect another person at the time of the incident
  • Collaborating with forensic and psychological experts to analyze a range of evidence, including ballistics, blood spatter, medical reports, your mental state, and more

By meticulously investigating the details of your case, analyzing self-defense claims, evaluating the application of the “Stand Your Ground” law, examining your mental state, and identifying any justifiable homicide circumstances, our first-degree murder attorneys can help ensure the best possible outcome. 

What Are the Degrees of Murder in Florida?

title decoration line

Many criminal charges in Florida, including murder, are categorized into degrees according to their specific circumstances. Below we will break down first-degree, second-degree, and capital murder charges in the State of Florida to glean important insights about their distinctions.

First-Degree Murder

Florida Statutes, Section 782.04(1) defines first-degree murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with premeditation — meaning it was planned and not an act committed in the heat of the moment. This charge also applies to murders committed during the perpetration of certain felonies, such as robbery, sexual battery, and kidnapping.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder refers to the unlawful killing of a human being without premeditation but with a depraved mind that shows no regard for human life. Although this type of murder is not planned, it represents an act that is imminently dangerous to another person and demonstrates a reckless disregard for human life.

Capital Murder

In the State of Florida, capital murder refers to first-degree murder cases that are eligible for the death penalty. They typically involve aggravating factors, such as the murder of a law enforcement officer or multiple victims, or they involve a particularly heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner of killing. Of all the murder charges in Florida, capital murder is the most serious and prosecuted with the most ferocity.

What Are the Most Common Murder Defenses?

The best legal defense for your murder charge in Florida depends on the specific details of your case. Our attorneys can help you explore various strategies, including the following approaches:

  • Self-defense / defense of others. In Florida, self-defense or the defense of others can be a valid legal defense to a murder charge — if the defendant reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another person.
  • Accidental killings. When the death of another person is unintended and occurs without criminal negligence, the defendant can argue that the killing was purely accidental and not the result of reckless or intentional behavior.
  • Insanity defense. If the defendant was suffering from a severe mental illness or defect that rendered them unable to understand the consequences of their actions or distinguish right from wrong, at the time of the murder, they may be able to claim insanity.
  • False and coerced confessions. If the defendant’s confession was obtained through coercion, undue pressure, or other improper tactics by law enforcement officers, it may be inadmissible in court.
  • Illegal search and seizure. If police officers obtained evidence against the defendant through an illegal search or seizure, violating their Fourth Amendment rights, that evidence can be suppressed and excluded from your criminal trial — significantly weakening the prosecution’s case.
  • Mistaken identification. When a witness incorrectly identifies the defendant as the perpetrator of the murder, a mistaken identification defense can cast doubt on the reliability and accuracy of the identification process.

Each of these defenses require a thorough understanding of Florida criminal law and a careful analysis of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the charge. Our team can help you explore these and many more as we prepare a robust defense. 

What Is the Punishment for Murder in Florida?

The legal penalties and indirect consequences associated with a murder conviction in Florida depend largely on the degree of the charges, the defendant’s criminal history, and the presence of any aggravating factors. Here are a few penalties associated with the most common types of murder charges in Florida:

  • First-degree murder. First-degree murder involves the premeditated killing of another person or a killing that takes place during the commission of certain felonies. It is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, as well as the death penalty.
  • Capital murder. As a subset of first-degree murder that involves specific aggravating factors, a capital murder conviction is eligible for the death penalty, as well as life imprisonment.
  • Second-degree murder. This felony murder is punishable by up to life in prison and a minimum sentence of 25 years to life, depending on the specific circumstances.
  • Additional penalties. Individuals convicted of murder in Florida may face a range of additional penalties, including fines, restitution, probation, loss of rights, enhanced sentencing and more.

Florida has some of the harshest penalties for murder in the United States. No matter what degree or type of murder charge you’re facing, it’s critical to avoid conviction at all costs.

Are There Other Forms Of Homicide?

title decoration line

Whereas murder involves the intentional killing of another person with premeditation or with a depraved mind showing no regard for human life, homicide encompasses various killing offenses. It is a broad term that can be applied to any of the following: 

  • Attempted murder. This crime occurs when an individual takes a substantial step towards killing another person but does not succeed, thus involving intent but not an over act.
  • Voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter refers to the intentional killing of another person in the heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation. Unlike murder, it lacks premeditation and occurs spontaneously.
  • Involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally causes the death of another person through reckless or negligent actions, but not through intent.
  • Vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter, also known as vehicular homicide, refers to the killing of another person through the reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Florida law recognizes several forms of homicide beyond first and second-degree murder, each with specific definitions and penalties. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for building an effective legal defense.

Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense: Orlando First-Degree Murder Attorneys in Central Florida

title decoration line

If you’ve been charged with first-degree murder in Florida, you already know how serious your situation is. Failure to secure top-quality legal representation could seal your fate, resulting in life imprisonment and even the death penalty. When the stakes are this high, only the best criminal defense attorneys will do. Fortunately, Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense is standing by to help. Contact our law office and start fighting for your future.

Contact Us

Contact us now

In need of a strong defense? Don’t face your charges alone. Get the legal support you need call today or email us. Your defense starts here.