Manslaughter Attorney in Pensacola, Florida
According to a statistical analysis done by the website Neighborhood Scout, residents in Pensacola face a 1-in-164 chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime. For the entire state of Florida, the ratio is 1-in-264. Put another way, 6.12 of every 1,000 residents in Pensacola face the danger of violent crime, while for Florida as a whole it is 3.78 of every 1,000 residents.
Manslaughter is a violent crime that involves the taking of another person’s life either voluntarily or involuntarily in an incident that doesn’t legally qualify as murder.
If you’re under suspicion of manslaughter or have already been charged, you need experienced legal representation to develop a solid defense strategy.
If you’re in the Pensacola area, including Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and Milton, contact David Lee Sellers, P.A., immediately. David Lee Sellers is a dedicated criminal defense attorney who will stand by your side and represent you throughout each step of the proceedings.
What is Manslaughter Under Florida Law?
Under Florida Statutes Section 782.07, manslaughter is the killing of another person through recklessness, failure to act appropriately, intentional misconduct, or negligence. It is generally broken down into two types: intentional and unintentional.
If convicted of manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony, you can face up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. The minimum sentence is nine-and-a-quarter years.
However, if the crime rises to aggravated assault — for example, if it’s committed against an elderly person or a child — it is considered a first-degree felony. Similarly, if a weapon or firearm is used, the charge also rises to first-degree. The penalties then escalate to 10-30 years in prison (or possibly life, if you take a child’s life) and a maximum fine of $200,000.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is often referred to as a “heat of passion” offense. This means that there is a sudden provocation that results in the defendant developing an intent to kill, or an intent to commit an act that results in the victim’s death. The classic example is a husband who arrives home to find his wife cheating on him, and he kills the other man.
In an involuntary manslaughter charge, the prosecution does not need to show an intent to kill or perform an act that results in death. Instead, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted with “culpable negligence,” i.e., a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior.
Involuntary manslaughter could involve carelessness or negligence while handling a dangerous weapon or another instrument. Drugs can also be involved. A well-known example is Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering propofol, resulting in the singer’s death.
Involuntary manslaughter can also be charged if someone uses excessive force during an act of self-defense or the defense of another person.
Defenses Against Manslaughter Charges
Common defenses against a manslaughter charge are, similar to a homicide defense, to claim:
It was justifiable self-defense
There is insufficient evidence to support the charge
You have been wrongfully accused
It was an accident
A claim of justifiable self-defense must rely on showing that there was a “reasonable” need for deadly force to protect your life and that there was no wrongdoing on your part.
A claim of insufficient evidence involves creating doubt about the prosecution’s case, their arguments, and their evidence. This is the classic definition of having to be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Claiming you were wrongfully accused may require showing that you were in another place at the time of the manslaughter, or that the charge was motivated by a desire for revenge by the person bringing the accusation. You can also try to show that the police arrested the wrong person in their zeal to bring the case to a close.
For any manslaughter charge to stick, the prosecution must show either intent or culpable negligence. The defense can argue against both elements, claiming that the death was purely accidental with no intent or negligence involved.
Insanity defenses are usually based on proving the defendant’s inability to understand the nature of their actions or to distinguish between right and wrong. However, proving insanity is extremely difficult and is therefore rarely employed.
The Value of a Skilled Attorney
Relying on a public defender or trying to go it alone in court can only increase the risk of an unfavorable outcome and perhaps an even harsher sentence if convicted.
A knowledgeable attorney will consult with you, listen to your story, and investigate what really happened. Your legal counsel will then explore all of your legal and defense options with you and develop a solid strategy aimed at achieving the most favorable result.
Serving Pensacola, Florida
If you’re facing charges of either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter in or around the greater Pensacola, Florida area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your freedom and future may be at stake. Contact David Lee Sellers, PA, immediately for an initial consultation. The quicker you act, the sooner a solid defense strategy can be developed and put to work.