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Second-Degree Murder vs. Voluntary Manslaughter Explained

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What Is Second-Degree Murder?

Second-degree murder is an intentional homicide that was not premeditated. This means an individual acted impulsively or with clouded judgment, which led to one or more targeted deaths. Since it was not planned ahead of time, it’s considered a slightly less severe charge than first-degree murder. In many cases, second-degree murder occurs while committing a felony crime like burglary or robbery.

However, the law states that this offense displays a shocking disregard for human life since a person accused of this likely meant to seriously injure or kill someone. For this reason, the penalty is severe and often includes life in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer may give you a chance to reduce your penalties or get the case dismissed, so talk to Florida attorneys as soon as you’re arrested for second-degree murder. Contact our firm today at 954-543-1186 for assistance with your case.

What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is also homicide, but it’s not intentional in most cases. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. The latter often refers to accidents involving negligence, such as fist fights where one person accidentally kills another person.

On the other hand, voluntary manslaughter refers to crimes where the defendant was provoked or made a quick decision to severely harm or kill someone else in the heat of passion. For instance, if someone witnesses their spouse cheating on them and they attack the other person in the room, the homicide may be ruled voluntary manslaughter.

This can lead to up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Prison time for this offense may be higher – up to 30 years – if the victim was elderly or a child or if the defendant used a firearm or other weapon. In most cases, voluntary manslaughter involves an emotional or irrational reaction from the individual being charged.

What’s the Difference Between Second-Degree Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter?

Homicide is among the most serious accusations to be charged with. However, not all homicide charges are the same. Some are more severe than others and, therefore, have harsher penalties, such as when you compare second-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The main difference between these two charges is the motivation behind them, leading to different punishments. A second-degree murder charge is often given to individuals who are committing another crime along with the murder. Voluntary manslaughter is typically assigned in cases when someone kills irrationally or without thinking.

If you have been accused of either of these offenses in Florida, you must talk with a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney immediately to fully understand the legal and financial implications and to create a solid defense strategy. Both charges can come with serious repercussions that not only impact your present but your future as well. A criminal conviction can make it challenging to apply for jobs, secure housing, or get insured. Contact our team today for assistance in reducing or removing the penalties against you.

How Are Murder Charges Classified?

Being charged with murder is a serious offense no matter what. However, the degree of the charge can change the penalties you may face when convicted. Prosecutors will typically examine every case individually before assigning the murder charge they see fit.

Below are the degrees of murder charges and the differences between them:

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most severe murder charge a person can be convicted of. Most individuals charged with first-degree murder have been proven to show intent. Premeditated, willful, and planned murders are typically first-degree murders. An individual convicted of first-degree murder can face life in prison or even the death penalty, depending on the state.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder often happens while committing another crime, typically a felony offense. In most cases, a second-degree murder conviction leads to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Third-Degree Murder

Third-degree murder is the least serious of the murder charges. It can include all other homicides, including homicides committed by recklessness or inattention. For instance, a vehicular homicide could constitute involuntary homicide, leading to a third-degree murder charge.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is classified as the least serious of offenses pertaining to murder. Most often, involuntary manslaughter is homicide with no premeditation and without the intent to kill. An individual’s behavior may be reckless or dangerous, but it is not classified as an intent to kill. Penalties vary for involuntary manslaughter depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, individuals can face fines and jail time.

For instance, if someone discharges a firearm into a crowd without the intent to kill, they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Although they did not intend to commit homicide, their reckless and careless behavior led to death. Similarly, drunk driving resulting in a fatal accident could be considered involuntary manslaughter. However, these cases are often categorized as vehicular manslaughter, which is a category of its own.

Do You Need a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Whether you were charged with second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, you could face several years in prison and costly fines. If you want a chance to tell your side of the story and possibly get your charges reduced or dismissed, you’ll need an experienced lawyer by your side. An attorney can assist in negotiating with prosecutors or defending your case in court to get the outcome you deserve.

It’s best to hire a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has successfully handled numerous cases involving serious charges, such as murder or manslaughter. Call George Reres Law, P.A. today at 954-543-1186 or reach out to us online to talk to a compassionate, skilled lawyer about your case.

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