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Wed Apr 11, 2012, 02:57 PM

Murder in the first, murder in the second, and manslaughter. [View all]

Since we're talking about charges, I thought it might be useful to be clear about some definitions.

The highest degree of murder is, obviously, murder in the first degree. Murder in the first is defined as a murder committed with intent, premeditation, and planning. For instance, if someone schemes out to murder their business partner and make it look like an accident, that would be murder in the first degree. First degree murder depends on the ability to prove premeditation, which is nearly impossible if the killer and the victim didn't previously know each other.

Just below that is murder in the second degree. Murder in the second is functionally identical to first degree murder, but without premeditation and planning. An example would be if someone got into an argument at a bar and ended up stabbing the other person to death, that would be murder in the second degree.

Manslaughter encompasses all other forms of homicide which don't rise to the level of murder, including cases where the person has a temporarily diminished capacity for rational judgment, or deaths arising from negligence or recklessness. For instance, if you had a bar fight that was provoked by the revelation that someone's spouse was cheating on them, and one of the participants ended up dead, that could be manslaughter. Likewise, if you have a fistfight and one of the participants falls and cracks their head open on the pavement, that could also be manslaughter. Or, someone provoking a fight which then ends with them exercising lethal self defense--even if they met the legal definition for self defense, reasonably fearing for their life, they would still be culpable for starting the confrontation which resulted in death, making it manslaughter.

Zimmerman will most likely be charged with either manslaughter or murder in the second. A conviction for manslaughter would be basically a lock in this case, since even Zimmerman's own story basically would incriminate him for that. Murder two is also possible, however this depends heavily on what the prosecutor thinks they can get a conviction on. Most prosecutors will probably go for a 100% chance of a manslaughter conviction over a 75% chance of a murder two conviction simply to eliminate the risk of an acquittal, particularly if the point is to show that someone is not getting away with murder.

The penalty in Florida for murder in the second is a minimum of 16 3/4 years in prison, with up to life in prison or up to life probation at the discretion of the judge.

The penalty in Florida for manslaughter is a minimum of 9 1/4 years in prison, with up to 15 years in prison and/or up to 15 years probation at the discretion of the judge.

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Reply Murder in the first, murder in the second, and manslaughter. [View all]
TheWraith Apr 2012 OP
Smilo Apr 2012 #1
pnwmom Apr 2012 #2
TheWraith Apr 2012 #4
pnwmom Apr 2012 #5
notadmblnd Apr 2012 #38
Recursion Apr 2012 #47
notadmblnd Apr 2012 #53
vaberella Apr 2012 #45
gateley Apr 2012 #9
TheWraith Apr 2012 #15
pnwmom Apr 2012 #17
lacrew Apr 2012 #36
pnwmom Apr 2012 #46
lacrew Apr 2012 #48
TheWraith Apr 2012 #51
pnwmom Apr 2012 #16
gateley Apr 2012 #3
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CenPhx Apr 2012 #29
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TheWraith Apr 2012 #18
anti-alec Apr 2012 #54
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TheWraith Apr 2012 #37
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