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West Palm Beach Murder Lawyer

Scott Berry is a Skilled West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Handling Murder & Manslaughter Charges in Palm Beach County

 There is no more serious criminal charge than one relating to the death of another human being. If you or your family member has been charged with murder, manslaughter, or any other type of homicide related criminal offense, it is imperative that you seek professional legal representation as soon as possible. The consequences for a conviction or guilty plea in a homicide case will be severe, they could potentially include life in prison or even the death penalty. Murder cases are extremely complex and defendants need a qualified legal advocate by their side.

 Scott Berry is an experienced West Palm Beach murder defense lawyer. Mr. Berry is a board certified Florida criminal defense lawyer with more than fifteen years of successful experience. This is a designation only held by a small number of defense lawyers. He strongly believes that every defendant is entitled to their day in court. If you or your loved one was charged with murder or manslaughter in Palm Beach County, you need to take immediate action. Please contact our law office today for free, fully confidential legal guidance.

Understanding Murder Charges in Florida

 Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being. It can be committed in a number of different ways and the manner in which it is committed determines the severity of the offense and the possible penalty imposed. Indeed, homicide charges come in a wide range of different forms. Some of the most notable examples include: 

  • First degree murder: A homicide will be charged as first degree murder where the defendant acted with premeditation or the death occurred during the commission of certain felonies enumerated in the statute. For instance, where the death occurs during the commission of a Robbery, Sexual Battery, or Burglary, the Murder could be charged as first degree. There are a number of other enumerated crimes in the statute that would allow the government to charge first degree Murder. There are only two penalties for first degree Murder: life in prison or the death penalty. Even the judge may not give a person convicted of first degree Murder less than a life sentence.
  • Second degree murder: Not all Murder is Murder in the first degree. Where a death occurs as a result of the criminal act of the defendant, but without premeditation, the crime could be charged as second degree murder. Typically, this occurs when the offense is deemed to be ‘malicious’ but not premeditated. For example, if a defendant commits a carjacking, and kills someone during the crime, that homicide may be charged as a second degree murder. The criminal act was malicious, but murder was not originally intended as the result.  The death penalty may not be imposed for a conviction of second degree Murder or Manslaughter. A conviction for second degree murder can result in a life sentence, although it is not mandatory. In other words, the judge does have discretion in determining the sentence imposed..
  • Third degree murder: Third degree murder is a murder charge in which neither of two primary aggravating elements are present. That is to say, the defendant had no premeditated intent to commit murder and there was no malice in the act. This means that the defendant must not have been committing a serious felony when the homicide occurred. Though, there may have been other crimes related to the charge. While less serious than the previous two degrees of murder listed, a third degree murder charge is still a very serious criminal offense. The minimum sentence for a conviction is 10.5 years in prison. A person facing a third degree murder charge needs professional legal help.
  • Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter: Beyond murder charges, a person could also be charged with manslaughter in a homicide case. In essence, this type of charge is used in cases in which the defendant has some culpability in the victim’s death, but less culpability than they would in a murder case. There are two different types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. The sentence for this type of crime can vary considerably. It will always depend on the exact circumstances of the case as well as the background of the individual defendant. Though, there still may be mandatory minimum sentences that the judge must impose.

Florida Murder Statute

 Florida Statute, Section 782.04 Murder

(1)(a) The unlawful killing of a human being:

  1. When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being;
  2. When committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
  3. Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
  4. Arson,
  5. Sexual battery,
  6. Robbery,
  7. Burglary,
  8. Kidnapping,
  9. Escape,
  10. Aggravated child abuse,
  11. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
  12. Aircraft piracy,
  13. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
  14. Carjacking,
  15. Home-invasion robbery,
  16. Aggravated stalking,
  17. Murder of another human being,
  18. Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person,
  19. Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism; or
  20. Which resulted from the unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a) 4., opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or methadone by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,

is murder in the first degree and constitutes a capital felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082.

(b) In all cases under this section, the procedure set forth in s. 921.141 shall be followed in order to determine sentence of death or life imprisonment.

(2) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3) When a person is killed 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, or

(q) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

by a person other than the person engaged in the perpetration of or in the attempt to perpetrate such felony, the person perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate such felony is guilty of murder in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated without any design to effect death, by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any felony other than 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) Unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a) 4., or opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,

(m) Carjacking,

(n) Home-invasion robbery,

(o) Aggravated stalking,

(p) Murder of another human being,

(q) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or

(r) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

is murder in the third degree and constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(5) As used in this section, the term “terrorism” means an activity that:

(a) 1. Involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life which is a violation of the criminal laws of this state or of the United States; or

  1. Involves a violation of s. 815.06; and

(b) Is intended to:

  1. Intimidate, injure, or coerce a civilian population;
  2. Influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
  3. Affect the conduct of government through destruction of property, assassination, murder, kidnapping, or aircraft piracy. 

Building an Effective Legal Defense in a Homicide Case

 Every homicide/murder case is unique. Defendants must work with an attorney who can build a skilled, fully personalized legal defense that properly suits their circumstances. The most effective defense strategy will depend on a number of different factors. In some cases, there may be a mistaken identity, or the charges may be entirely false. It is possible that the defendant may not have played any role whatsoever in the victim’s death. In other murder cases, there will be serious issues as to the extent of the victim’s culpability. It may be unjust that the defendant is being charged with murder or manslaughter given their role in the victim’s death.

Our West Palm Beach murder defense lawyers carefully review every case to ensure that our legal team is building the best legal defense strategy for our client. Whether that is fighting aggressively to get unjust homicide charges dismissed outright, or working and negotiating to get murder charges reduced, we are committed to providing each defendant with the fully individualized legal defense that their particular case deserves.

Contact Our West Palm Beach Murder Defense Lawyers Today 

At Scott Berry Law, P.A., our top-rated West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers have the skills and experience required to handle the full range of homicide cases. Our legal team firmly believes that everyone deserves their day in court.

To set up a free, fully private criminal defense consultation, please do not hesitate to call us today at 561-370-7420. With an office in West Palm Beach, we represent defendants throughout Palm Beach County, including in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, Belle Glade, Lake Worth, and North Palm Beach.

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