One rule of any civil society is that one person not kill another unless that killing is, in the values of that society, excusable or justifiable, which is typically only when it is done in defense of oneself or another person.
Many people equate the idea of “homicide” with “murder” but the two aren’t exactly the same in the legal world. Essentially, the concept of “homicide” includes any killing of another person. Not all homicides are violent crimes; some are considered to be excusable or justified. And not all homicides are “murder,” a term reserved for the most serious instances of intentional killing. With the legal complexity behind this, it is important to contact a Tampa homicide attorney to discuss legal grounds.
The Law in Florida
In Florida, an entire chapter of the Florida Statutes—chapter 782—is devoted to the various kinds of homicide, the kinds of homicides that are criminal, as opposed to justified or excusable, and the many rules on what penalties apply in criminal homicides.
The various kinds of homicide in Chapter 782 include, among others:
- Homicide by vehicle
- Homicide by vessel (aircraft or boat)
- Aiding in another person’s suicide (“self-murder”)
What they all have in common is that conviction can cost you many years of your life. The quality of your Tampa homicide lawyer is a major factor in avoiding conviction and in minimizing sentences when conviction does occur.
Defenses to Homicide
Presenting a defense to a charge of homicide requires in-depth knowledge of the facts of the case, as well as awareness of the legal subtleties involved in the many different crimes that may be charged.
The simplest defense is simply that you, the defendant, did not commit the acts the state claims you committed—the victim may be dead, but you didn’t kill him. The defense will vary from case to case:
- Is there eyewitness testimony that you killed the victim? Eyewitness testimony is often mistaken.
- If physical evidence is offered by the state, there are questions about the source, safekeeping, and testing of the evidence (chain of evidence).
- If the evidence is largely circumstantial, there is almost always a plausible alternative explanation of it that varies from what the prosecution claims it shows.
A second kind of defense admits the facts that the state charges, but attacks whether those facts are enough to establish the specific crime charged. The most obvious version of this is first degree murder, which requires premeditation. An experienced homicide attorney in Tampa is adept at countering the evidence that the state claims indicates premeditation. As in the first degree murder example, though, even a successful defense may only serve to reduce the degree of the crime, rather than result in an acquittal.
A third kind of defense admits the facts charged y the state but proves that the circumstances of the killing indicate that the killing is justifiable(as when the victim was in the process of trying to kill you) or excusable (as when catching your spouse with another person caused you to act “in the heat of passion”).
Get Help—Your Freedom and Life Depend On It
From the moment you are investigated for a homicide or arrested for one, your future is on the line. The important parts of homicide cases often occur early on. It is crucial to have an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney representing your interests while authorities are still forming their opinions and theories about what happened. The lawyer can also ensure that the authorities respect your legal rights during this stage (to a speedy trial, to any exculpatory evidence the state turns up, etc.), and protect you from unintended effects of statements that may seem innocuous to you but incriminating to the state.
When it comes to possible plea agreements in Tampa, only an experienced defense lawyer can ensure that you understand all the possible ramifications of accepting or rejecting the offer.
For immediate help in your homicide case, call attorney William Hanlon. Will offers the cumulative wisdom gleaned from twenty years of criminal defense work in the Tampa area. Get a defense as aggressive as the state’s prosecution from the very beginning. Call today.