What are the pros and cons of the felony murder laws? 

What are the pros and cons of the felony murder laws? 

What are the pros and cons of the felony murder laws? 

What are the pros and cons of the felony murder laws? Need a lawyer to help you fight your criminal case? Smith & Eulo Law Firm is here to help. Call (407) 930-8912 or visit us at www.smithandeulo.com.

Felony Murder

What are the pros and cons of the felony murder laws? Florida has two types of felony murder laws. There is First Degree Felony Murder and Third Degree Felony Murder. First Degree Felony Murder is a First Degree Felony, but Third Degree Felony Murder is only a Second Degree Felony. 1st Degree Felony Murder is punishable by life imprisonment, while Third Degree Felony Murder is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.

First Degree Felony Murder

Let’s first look at First Degree Felony Murder. Florida Statute 782.04(1)(a)(2) governs First Degree Felony Murder, and provides us with the legal definition. What qualifies as First Degree Felony Murder in Florida? Florida Statute 782.04(1)(a)(2) defines First Degree Felony Murder as:

The unlawful killing of a human being when committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:

a. Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
b. Arson,
c. Sexual battery,
d. Robbery,
e. Burglary,
f. Kidnapping,
g. Escape,
h. Aggravated child abuse,
i. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
j. Aircraft piracy,
k. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
l. Carjacking,
m. Home-invasion robbery,
n. Aggravated stalking,
o. Murder of another human being,
p. Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person,
q. Aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death,
r. Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism, including a felony under 775.30, 775.32, 775.33, 775.34, or 775.35, or
s. Human trafficking; or
t. Unlawful distribution of certain controlled substances which causes the death of the user

First Degree Felony Murder is punishable by life imprisonment, and is therefore one of the most serious crimes in the State of Florida.

Third Degree Felony Murder

Let’s now take a look at Third Degree Murder. Florida Statute 782.04(4) governs Third Degree Degree Felony Murder, and gives us its legal definition. What qualifies as Third Degree Degree Felony Murder in Florida? Florida Statute 782.04(4) defines Third Degree Felony Murder as the unlawful killing of a human being when committing any felony other than:

(a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
(b) Arson,
(c) Sexual battery,
(d) Robbery,
(e) Burglary,
(f) Kidnapping,
(g) Escape,
(h) Aggravated child abuse,
(i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
(j) Aircraft piracy,
(k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
(l) Unlawful distribution of controlled substances that causes of the death of the user,
(m) Carjacking,
(n) Home-invasion robbery,
(o) Aggravated stalking,
(p) Murder of another human being,
(q) Aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death,
(r) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or
(s) Act of terrorism or felony in furtherance of an act of terrorism, including a felony under 775.30, 775.32, 775.33, 775.34, or 775.35

The Pros and Cons of Felony Murder

The biggest cons of First Degree Felony Murder are the lack of required intent and mandatory life imprisonment for First Degree Felony Murder. Let’s first talk about the intent requirement.

Intent

First Degree Felony Murder and Third Degree Felony Murder are unique because you don’t need to intend to kill anyone to get convicted. You just have to intend to participate in a felony. If you participate in a felony, and someone dies, you can be found guilty. This is unusual, because most types of murder require a person to intend to kill the victim. That is not the case with First Degree and Third Degree Felony Murder, because such intent is not required. You can technically be arrested and convicted for First Degree and Third Degree Felony Murder for a murder you never intended to happen. Let’s look at an example of First Degree Felony Murder and see how it works:

Example

You go into a store with a friend because he tells you he wants to rob the store. You agree to rob the store with him, but you tell him you don’t want any guns involved at all. Your friend agrees and says he’s not bringing any guns in the store. He tells you he will only tell the clerk he has a gun, but won’t actually have one on him. You guys go in the store and commit the robbery. Your friend tells the clerk to get on the ground, and you go gather merchandise to steal. As you guys are finishing up the robbery, the clerk reaches for his gun behind the counter. Your friend suddenly pulls out a gun and shoots the clerk. You are shocked and angry at your friend because you told him no guns. You didn’t intend for the clerk to die, and you even told your friend no guns. The clerk died because your friend shot him and didn’t listen to your advice. Both of you are later arrested and charged with First Degree Felony Murder.
What happens in this case? You didn’t shoot the clerk and you didn’t even bring a gun in the store. Moreover, you even told your friend not to bring a gun to the robbery. It still doesn’t matter, because you intended to participate in and commit the robbery. You will be arrested and likely charged First Degree Felony Murder.

Mandatory Life Imprisonment For First Degree Felony Murder

A conviction for First Degree Felony Murder is punishable by mandatory life imprisonment. This means if you get convicted in Florida for First Degree Felony Murder, you get automatic life and no other possible sentence. Life imprisonment is even worse in Florida because in Florida life imprisonment means no possibility of parole. The toughest reality of First Degree Felony Murder is that you can go to prison for life for a murder that you didn’t intend to commit.

Pros

The major pros of First Degree Felony Murder are that it is often tough to prove and there are many defenses to it. A good lawyer can help you raise viable defenses and fight to help you win your First Degree Felony Murder case. Smith & Eulo Law Firm has defended First Degree and Third Degree Felony Murder Cases throughout Central Florida for over a decade. Call us at (407) 930-8912 or visit us online at www.smithandeulo.com if you have any questions about your criminal case or need a lawyer now. Smith & Eulo Law Firm is your path to justice.