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Florida Statutes on Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter

by Professor Will Huhn on April 12, 2012

in Criminal Law,Wilson Huhn

George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder, which carries a possible penalty of life in prison. A possible lesser charge is manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. This post sets forth the relevant Florida statutes on homocide.

Jeff Weiner and Rene Stutzman of the Orlando Sentinel report in George Zimmerman jailed on second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin shooting on the charges that special prosecutor Angela Corey has brought against Zimmerman.

The Florida Murder statute is contained in Section 782.04. First degree murder (Section 782(1)(a)) requires proof of "premeditated design" and is a capital offense. Second degree murder, in contrast, requires proof of "imminently dangerous" conduct "evincing a depraved mind." Second degree murder is defined in Section 782.04(2), which provides:

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 ….

Zimmerman could have been charged with manslaughter, which is defined in Section 782.07(1). That section of the law provides:

The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree ….

According to Section 775.082, the maximum penalty for a felony of the second degree is 15 years.