When a homicide in Florida does not meet the legal definition of murder, state law gives prosecutors the option to consider a charge of manslaughter.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale manslaughter defense attorneys recognize that while manslaughter is generally considered less serious than murder, potential consequences are nonetheless severe. Successful challenge of a manslaughter charge requires a legal team with extensive knowledge, experience and resources.
Manslaughter is defined by F.S. 782.07 as the killing of another human being by the act, procurement or culpable negligence of another person without lawful justification.
There are generally three ways manslaughter can be committed: Voluntarily, by Procurement and by Culpable Negligence (or Involuntary).
Culpable negligence is a legal term that involves violation of the duty each of us possesses to act reasonably toward other people. When that violation occurs without any conscious intention of harm, it’s known as negligence. However, culpable negligence is a bit more egregious. It involves a violation that is both gross and flagrant and displays a showing of reckless disregard for human life or safety or a want of care such that it raises the presumption of conscious indifference.
Essentially, it’s when a defendant acts or fails to act in a way that he or she knows or should reasonably know is going to result in either death or great bodily injury to someone else.Manslaughter Penalties
Typically, manslaughter is a Level 7 offense deemed to be a second-degree felony.
Judges overseeing manslaughter cases are required to impose a minimum sentence of 9 ¼ years behind bars. He or she may additionally impose a sentence that includes:
Sentencing consequences increase if defendant is convicted of manslaughter with a firearm or other deadly weapon. It may also be increased when:
In those cases, which are sometimes referred to as “aggravated manslaughter,” the charge is upped to a first-degree felony, in which case maximum penalties include:
Having any of these charges reduced or successfully challenged requires a proper defense involving a thorough independent investigation and analysis of existing evidence.Successful Defense in Florida Manslaughter Case
To start, there are numerous pretrial and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case.
For example, pretrial defenses will generally include technical barriers to prosecution or the entry of critical evidence. These might include:
These are typically raised either with motions to suppress or motions to dismiss.
Trial defenses meanwhile are those that either challenge the sufficiency of evidence or serve as an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is one that doesn’t deny the occurrence of the offense, but rather offers legal justification.
Insufficient evidence simply means prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to prove each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
An affirmative defense, meanwhile, analyzes elements like:
An experienced Fort Lauderdale manslaughter defense attorney can give you a more complete picture of the possible defenses for your case.