A 31-year-old man is facing attempted first-degree murder charges after an altercation on Christmas Eve that was spurred by loud music. Family members were able to hold down the defendant and disarm him after he fired a loaded weapon at one of the victims. The man fired another round into the ground while they were disarming him. The victim survived the assault and is in stable condition. The defendant is being held without bail while his case works its way through the courts.
In Florida, the penalty for first-degree murder is the same as the penalty for attempted first-degree murder.
Is this really a murder charge?
It’s hard to say. Florida has an attempted manslaughter statute that may be pertinent to this case. Manslaughter and murder are both homicide charges, but manslaughter falls short of murder. The penalty for attempted manslaughter in Florida is 5 years.
However, this is where it gets confusing. How can you “attempt” to manslaughter someone if manslaughter is an accidental death caused by negligence and murder is an intentional death caused by malice?
What is attempted voluntary manslaughter?
Manslaughter is a culpable negligence crime. That means that you act or behave in a way that is likely to cause injury or death to someone else. In the case of attempted voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that the death would have occurred if some intervention didn’t prevent it. Culpable negligence is a stronger claim than simple negligence. You can’t be charged with manslaughter for a basic goof-up. Your negligence must be likely to cause injury or death.
As an example, driving a vehicle with a BAC of .24 and killing someone else on the road is considered manslaughter. You didn’t mean to kill them specifically, but you acted in a way that was likely to kill someone. No one, however, is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter in a DUI accident.
Attempted voluntary manslaughter applies to a very small set of situations in which a defendant acts with criminal negligence in a manner likely to cause injury or death. It does not apply to situations where a defendant is firing a loaded weapon at a specific individual to make them stop playing music. However, first-degree murder may be an overcharge given that the defendant was spurred to act in a state of emotional rage. Second-degree murder fits better because the defendant acted out of malice and rage but did not really plan the attack.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Attempted murder is not a good way to solve domestic disputes. Earbuds, calling the police, or asking nicely tend to produce better results. Otherwise, you may need a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today and we can begin preparing your defense strategy today.