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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.


S H April 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

This is a great article. Not being a lawyer I cannot validate it's veracity, but it seems to provide the actual points of law concerning the Florida case.

I think Zimmerman's mindset will be shown to be flawed, but not "depraved," and that that technicality will set him free.

i think that the Police and D.A. have already established they are incompetent, and I think the trend continues with this charge. They should have charged him with manslaughter.

I hope justice is done for Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Martin and his family will never get justice because the child is dead.

May God have mercy on all of us.

Dan April 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Lets not forget that the "incident" took place on Private Property in a "Gated" community. Audio "tapes" played on Fox News clearly state that Zimmerman "retreated" to meet Police Officers at the mailboxes on the premises. He was on the phone with Police telling them that he lost sight of Martin. Another 911 caller was on the phone telling Police there was a fight going on and then there was a gunshot heard. [note] Zimmerman not only "lives" on the premises, but also is a Volunteer Neighbor Watchman. Trayvon Martin was "trespassing". I will try and find a "link" for the female 911 caller. There were approx. eight 911 callers. Zimmerman was "struck" in the face and was having his head bashed into a cement walkway and screaming for help.
I am not a Judge, but if my head was getting pounded on a cement walkway, I would take "any" measures to stop it. The problem here, is that not "all" the "tapes" were released from the beginning. I say, "self-defense" on Private Property applies.
[unless more evidence turns up]

Jake April 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm

It's really amazing how many facts you have gotten wrong, Dan.

Zimmerman did not "retreat to his mailboxes." The 911 operator suggested this, Zimmerman thought twice about it, then arranged for the cops to call him when they were in the area. This suggests that Zimmerman further pursued Trayvon in some capacity, since he did not want to wait in a certain spot…he wanted to get involved further.

This did not happen on Zimmerman's property. Trayvon lived in that neighborhood too, for all intents and purposes…he was staying there and had just as much right to be there as anyone else. He WAS NOT trespassing. Period. He was walking down the street, which is public property…

The key in this case is that Zimmerman instigated the whole situation by following and stalking this kid. That is, unless you believe that Trayvon attacked a stranger at random for no reason, which is ridiculous. We don't know who pushed who first or how the confrontation went down; but if Trayvon pushed first, it was because this creepy guy was following him and he felt threatened by him. It's reasonable to suggest Trayvon was standing HIS own ground. His girlfriend, who was on the phone with Trayvon around this time, tells a different story than Zimmerman about how the confrontation began.

Gandydancer April 24, 2012 at 1:33 am

@Jake: Actually the girlfriend's story and Zimmerman's are noit inconsistent, so long as you pay attention only to what she heard and not to her interpretation of what she heard. (She clearly has no basis, other than prejudice, for interpreting the end of her call as GZ pushing TM rather than vice versa. I do note that you admit this, and hope that's a sign of a basic fairness on your part.) She says that TM confronted GZ, questions were exchanged, the call went dead. Where's the contradiction to GZ?

I agree that GZ clearly intended to look for TM after hanging up. That the dispatcher said this was perfectly OK (listen to the end of the call, or read the transcript) puts the lie to the prosecution's claim the GZ was ignoring an instruction not to do so, or an instruction to meet the arriving officers. And now, at the bail hearing, one of the Affadavit of Probable Cause affiants has admitted under oath that the claim he made and had notarized, that GZ confronted TM, was something he did not know to be true. You'd think someone would get in trouble for lying like that.

Charles April 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

"Homocide?" Really?

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