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People often get confused about the difference between the terms: ‘murder’ and ‘homicide.’ Homicide is the act of killing another person, but it is not necessarily a crime. In many cases, someone who has killed someone else in Florida will be arrested, but not always. It depends on the circumstances of the homicide.


There are three main categories of crimes that are considered homicides: murder, manslaughter and vehicular homicide. There are also homicides that are classified as ‘excusable’ ‘justifiable’ or carried out in ‘self-defense’. These last categories of homicide are not criminal offenses, but it may take an experienced and determined Miami criminal defense attorney to ensure that someone who has been accused of criminal homicide is finally dismissed by a court because the non-criminal nature of the homicide has been recognized.




The basic difference between murder and manslaughter is that murder involves the deliberate killing of another person. It is killing ‘with malice.’ The actual offense depends on the particular circumstances involved in the murder. The most serious is a felony murder in the first degree. This is when someone has planned to kill someone, i.e. the killing is premeditated. If the killing was not planned but occurred during the course of committing another crime, e.g. robbery, then the offense may be considered either a felony in the second or third degree.




Manslaughter involves the killing of someone without any intent to do so. Though it is unintentional, it still occurs as a result of negligence. The degree of negligence involved determines the severity of the manslaughter charge. For example, reckless behavior that ends in the death of someone else may be considered a felony in the second degree, but negligent acts that lead to the death of elderly, disabled and young people or people with particular jobs, like police officers or firemen may have committed felonies in the first degree.


Vehicular homicide


This is the killing of someone by the act of reckless or negligent driving. Depending on the circumstances it may be considered a felony in the first or second degree.


Anyone convicted of murder or manslaughter faces long periods in jail, possibly a life sentence, or even the death sentence. There may be very significant fines levied as well.


Defenses against a charge of criminal homicide


If the killing happened as a result of an unintentional error, or mistake, and no negligence was involved, then this may be considered ‘excusable’ homicide. A killing that has taken place in self-defense or to resist being killed may be considered as ‘justifiable’ homicide.


Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation currently allows for the justifiable use of deadly force outside of the home or vehicle if there is evidence that you need to do so to prevent being attacked.


As can be seen, homicide offenses are taken very seriously in Florida. Few offenses are more serious.  Don’t risk losing your liberty, job and future. If arrested for this or any other serious offense in Florida you can contact Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800 today!

Call Us Now!


Albert M. Quirantes | Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Office


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