When a person dies as the result of another person’s actions, manslaughter is a less serious violent crime than murder. Manslaughter charges are still felony offenses that can result in steep prison sentences.
The absence of malice or criminal intent beforehand that led to the alleged victim’s death is usually what differentiates manslaughter from murder. People cannot be convicted of manslaughter when deaths are the results of negligence or the killings were deemed excusable or justified.Lawyer for Manslaughter Charges in Miami-Dade County, FL
If you are under investigation or you have already been arrested for an alleged manslaughter offense in Florida, do not say anything to authorities without legal representation. The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients charged with crimes of violence in Hialeah, South Miami, Opa-locka, Miami Beach, and many surrounding communities in Miami-Dade County.
Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman has experience handling these types of cases as a former Assistant State Attorney and can fight to get the criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. Call (305) 249-0090 today to set up a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.
North Miami Manslaughter Information Center
- What is culpable negligence?
- Are there any defenses against manslaughter charges?
- Where can I learn more about manslaughter offenses?
Manslaughter Penalties in Florida
Florida Statute § 782.07 defines manslaughter as the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another party. Manslaughter is generally a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up $10,000, although the crime can be the first-degree felony offense of aggravated manslaughter punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up $10,000 if the alleged offender caused the death of any of the following by culpable negligence:
- Any elderly person or disabled adult;
- Any person under the age of 18;
- A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer;
- A firefighter;
- An emergency medical technician; or
- A paramedic.
Culpable negligence is defined as “a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.”
The two most common types of manslaughter cases are voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing that usually stems from an alleged offender’s culpable negligence, but voluntary manslaughter is an intentional killing that typically lacks the full criminal intent necessary to qualify as a murder charge (most frequently to as “heat-of-passion” killings).
Manslaughter Defenses in Miami-Dade County
Chapter 7.7 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions establishes three scenarios in which an alleged offender cannot be found guilty of manslaughter:
- Negligence — If the alleged offender violates the duty to act reasonably toward others without any conscious intention to harm, the violation is negligence. A purely negligent act cannot be considered manslaughter.
- Justifiable Homicide — Florida Statute § 782.02 defines justifiable homicide as the justifiable use of deadly force “when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.”
- Excusable Homicide — Under Florida Statute § 782.03, “Homicide is excusable when committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent, or by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, without any dangerous weapon being used and not done in a cruel or unusual manner.”
Many self-defense or “stand your ground” claims are considered justified or excusable homicide. Other possible defenses against manslaughter charges can include, but are not limited to mistaken identity, insanity, or violations of the alleged offender’s constitutional rights.
Florida Resources for Manslaughter Crimes
Chapter 7 | Florida Standard Jury Instructions — View the full text of the standard jury instructions for manslaughter cases under Chapter 7.7 on this section of the Florida Supreme Court website. The instructions contain multiple definitions, lesser included offenses, and additional comments. It is important to remember that standard jury instructions are rarely used verbatim as instructions must be modified to fit the particular elements of specific cases.
Tragedy Behind the Wheel: Understanding Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence, Vehicular Homicide, and DUI Manslaughter — Many manslaughter by culpable negligence charges stem from motor vehicle accidents, and this December 1997 article in the Florida Bar Journal examines how manslaughter by culpable negligence differs from vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter offenses. While all three criminal charges have some overlap, each crime has unique elements—namely the degree of negligence involved. The article cites numerous Florida court cases.
Have you been arrested for alleged manslaughter in South Florida? You should refuse to make any kind of statement to authorities until you have first contacted The Hoffman Firm.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who represents clients in North Miami, Aventura, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, and several surrounding areas in Miami-Dade County. He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free, initial consultation.