Manslaughter is different from the crime of murder in that alleged manslaughter does not involve the intent to kill that is inherent to a murder charge. When a person is accused of manslaughter, he or she is alleged to have intentionally committed the act that led to a person’s death or killed that person by culpable negligence.
Chapter 7.7 of the Florida Jury Instructions defines culpable negligence as “a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.”
An unintentional killing that usually stems from an alleged offender’s culpable negligence is considered involuntary manslaughter. An intentional killing without the premeditation involved in a murder charge (commonly referred to as a “heat-of-passion” killing) is voluntary manslaughter.Manslaughter Defense Lawyer in Broward County, Florida
Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for alleged manslaughter in South Florida? You will want to be sure that you contact The Hoffman Firm before you make any kind of statement to authorities.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman represents clients facing violent crime charges throughout Broward County, including Deerfield Beach, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Davie, Plantation, and many other nearby communities. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Manslaughter Crimes in Fort Lauderdale
- How can a person be convicted of manslaughter in Florida?
- Does state law recognize any kinds of defenses against manslaughter charges?
- Where can I find more information about manslaughter crimes in Broward County?
Florida Penalties for Manslaughter
In order for a person to be convicted of manslaughter in Florida, the prosecutor must prove that a victim is dead and either:
- The alleged offender intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the victim’s death;
- The alleged offender intentionally procured an act that caused the victim’s death; or
- The victim’s death was caused by the culpable negligence of the alleged offender.
Under Florida Statute § 782.07, manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. An alleged manslaughter can become a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if the alleged offender caused the death of any of the following types of people by culpable negligence:
- A firefighter;
- A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer;
- A paramedic;
- An emergency medical technician;
- Any elderly person or disabled adult; or
- Any person under the age of 18.
Possible Defenses in Broward County Manslaughter Cases
The Florida Standard Jury Instructions plainly state that an alleged offender “cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide.” Those terms are defined as follows:
- Excusable Homicide is the killing of a human being that lawful when the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, when the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or when the killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.
- Justifiable Homicide is defined under Florida Statute § 782.02 as the lawful use of deadly force when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be. Many self-defense claims involving invocation of the “Stand Your Ground” law are considered justifiable homicide.
- Negligence — The jury instructions state, “Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others.” Any violation of that duty without any conscious intention to harm is considered negligence.
Even when one of the claims above does not apply to a manslaughter case, an alleged offender may be able to utilize any one of a number of other possible defenses such as mistaken identity, some violation of the alleged offender’s constitutional rights, or an alibi that proves the alleged offender was in some other place at the time of the killing.
Florida Manslaughter Resources
Tragedy Behind the Wheel: Understanding Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence, Vehicular Homicide, and DUI Manslaughter — Motor vehicle accidents account for several involuntary manslaughter charges. Learn more about the difference between manslaughter by culpable negligence, vehicular homicide, and DUI manslaughter in this December 1997 Florida Bar Journal article. The author notes that the degree of negligence involved is one of the most important distinctions between these three offenses, with manslaughter by culpable negligence having the highest standard of negligence while DUI manslaughter has the lowest.
Chapter 7 | Florida Standard Jury Instructions — On this section of the Florida Supreme Court website, you can view the full text of the standard jury instructions for manslaughter cases. You can learn more about key definitions and lesser included offenses. Jury instructions are typically modified for the specific aspects of a particular case, so these instructions should be viewed more as a general outline than something that would be used verbatim.
If you were arrested or you believe that you could be currently under investigation in South Florida for alleged manslaughter, it will be in your best interest to not say anything to authorities without legal representation. The Hoffman Firm defends clients accused of violent crimes all over Broward County, including Dania Beach, Miramar, Fort Lauderdale, Margate, Sunrise, and several surrounding areas.
Evan A. Hoffman is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who has extensive trial experience as an Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. Call (954) 524-4474 or submit an online contact form today to have our lawyer review your case and discuss your legal options during a free consultation.