First Degree Murder: Not Always Intentional or Premeditated

Two teenagers and a 20-year-old were arrested in Wellington and Greenacres after they allegedly murdered three other teenage with a firearm, according to the Palm Beach Post. All three defendants are being charged with first degree murder. Police responded to a burglary call at a local yacht club before being fired upon with the same weapon that was used in the murders. While three were apprehended, a fourth suspect is believed to be at large. The other charges, in addition to murder, brought on the three men are burglary, robbery with a  firearm, and armed burglary.

Classic First Degree Murder Involves Premeditation

First degree murder is most often thought of as a well planned-out (or at least planned) plot to take the life of another. However, having a plan to kill another, or premeditation, is not always involved in a first degree murder charge. The intentional killing of another does not need to be proven in some circumstances. For instance, drug trafficking that leads to another’s death may result in a first degree or felony murder charge.

If all Three Defendants Are Being Charged With First Degree Murder, Does that Mean Each Defendant Shot and Killed One of the Three Teenagers?

In Florida, a first degree murder charge, or a felony murder, can be brought on anyone who participated in a break in that resulted in the death of another. They do not need to have carried out the actual murder. A prosecutor only needs to prove that they were involved in the felony break-in or burglary. First degree murder is defined by Florida statute 782.04 as “The unlawful killing of a human being when perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being.” That means that first degree murder must be premeditated, as opposed to second degree murder, which is often referred to as a “crime of passion” or a murder that takes place in the heat of the moment. However, a defendant can be charged with first degree murder in many other scenarios when a person dies, even if the killing of another was not premeditated or even intentional. Examples of these scenarios include trafficking offenses, arson, burglary, robbery, sexual battery, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, aggravated child abuse, escape, carjacking, aggravated stalking, home invasion robbery, resisting an officer, human trafficking, dealing controlled substances such as heroine, aggravated fleeing or eluding that results in serious bodily injury or death, and acts of terrorism.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are being charged with first degree murder, do not hesitate to contact the law office of the Skier Law Firm in West Palm Beach at (561) 820-1508 today. We will do everything in our power to prove your innocence, have the charges reduced, or the sentencing reduced. Time is of the essence, so call us as soon as possible.

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