Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys
The Difference Between Manslaughter & Murder in Florida

The Difference Between Manslaughter & Murder in Florida

Homicide is the area of law that deals with unlawful killings. Though every homicide charge is exceptionally serious, there are degrees to unlawful killings —which means some types of homicide charges are worse than others. One of the most common questions we get as defense lawyers is “what’s the difference between murder and manslaughter?” Today’s blog answers that question.

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing that was not motivated by “malice aforethought.” The lack of malicious planning is the key difference between murder and manslaughter. For instance, accidental deaths caused by reckless or careless behavior falls under manslaughter. 

Examples of manslaughter include:

  • Killing someone in a car accident while speeding
  • Killing someone with a firearm by mistake
  • Killing someone you catch cheating with your spouse

Note that even intentional homicide might still be considered manslaughter. These are popularly called “crimes of passion,” where someone kills another person in a context that might provoke a reasonable person to commit homicide. If you’re accused of committing a crime of passion, you’ll be charged with “voluntary manslaughter.”

What Are the Penalties for Manslaughter vs. Murder?

In Florida, murder is charged in two categories: first degree murder and second degree murder. First degree murder includes any homicide that is a premeditated killing (i.e. was planned), that occurs during a felony, or that occurs as a result of a drug dealer supplying drugs to someone who overdoses.

First degree murder is a capital felony, which means conviction could result in the death penalty. The minimum penalty is life without possibility of parole. 

Second degree murder includes any intentional killing that lacks premeditation (or where premeditation can’t be proven). For instance, if a defendant is accused of shooting someone in a crowded club, there may not be evidence that it was planned, but the shooting was still intentional and showed disregard for human life.

Second degree murder is a first degree felony. Penalties include life in prison or life on probation.

Manslaughter comes in three levels in Florida:

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • DUI manslaughter

Manslaughter is a second degree felony in Florida, which means it’s punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. 

If You’re Facing Homicide Charges, Call (954) 543-1788 Now

Our Fort Lauderdale murder defense lawyers have resolved thousands of criminal cases, including cases involving serious federal charges or capital offenses. If you need legal counsel, speak with our firm today to learn your options and take the next steps. We offer free consultations, so there’s no risk to calling with your questions.

Dial (954) 543-1788 to speak with us about your defense today.

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Our Victories

  • Not Guilty, Acquitted at Trial Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon

    Outcome: Client was alleged to have used his vehicle to strike victim, and there was video of the incident which could have been interpreted to actually show the crime. The state was offering significant prison time before trial. By meticulous planning and strategic cross-examination to expose the motives and fabrications by the alleged victim, and an eyewitness in support of the alleged victim, Rudenberg & Glasser convinced a jury to acquit the client and avoid a mandatory long prison sentence.

  • Domestic Violence
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser went to trial and were able to show during cross-examination that the alleged victim was the aggressor and that the client acted in self-defense. The jury returned a not guilty verdict almost immediately following trial.
  • Domestic Violence With 911 Call and Pictures
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser took the case to trial after fleshing out inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the client's unblemished record was preserved.
  • False Arrest

    Outcome: Attorney Glasser was able to show with video footage that his client did not commit the alleged offense and furthermore, the police officer who ordered his arrest was negligent in his investigation and improperly supervised.

    Read more about this story on the Sun Sentinel.

  • Probation Only Federal Conspiracy to Commit Mail & Wire Fraud

    Outcome: Through compelling sentencing memorandum and passionate oral argument, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to convince the federal court judge to sentence their client to treatment for substance abuse, and no incarceration, even though the client had a lengthy criminal history and the Government was seeking prison time.

  • Felony DUI: Client was in an Accident and Left the Scene
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser filed a compelling motion to suppress evidence based on law enforcement's actions during the investigation. Rudenberg & Glasser were able to persuade the prosecutor prior to the motion to suppress hearing that the charge should be broken down from a felony to a misdemeanor and the client was offered probation instead of the previously sought prison sentence.
  • Final Injunction Hearing
    Outcome: Client desperately needed to avoid a final injunction on his record. Rudenberg & Glasser defended him at the hearing and proved that the Petitioner was not in fear for her safety. The judge dismissed the injunction.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: Resisting Police Officer Without Violence
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg presented evidence that the police officer’s version of events was not credible, and that accusations were made to justify excessive use of force by police officer. Jury returned a verdict of not guilty in less than five minutes.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanors: DUI & Possession of Cannabis
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg won a motion arguing the DUI checkpoint was conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and the Judge entered an order suppressing all evidence. Case was dropped by the State, and client avoided a mandatory conviction for DUI, as well as mandatory fines and license suspensions.
  • $250,000 Pre-Trial Personal Injury

    Outcome: Client was injured by a malfunctioning door, requiring stitches and leaving a scar on client's knee. There were limited medical bills and no surgeries, but through extremely challenging and successful negotiations, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to secure a settlement of $250,000.

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