Standing accused of a serious crime can throw anyone's life off balance. In some cases, serious accusations could result in a person spending time behind bars while his or her trial takes place. If authorities accuse you of first-degree murder, you are in an extremely difficult predicament.
First-degree murder is commonly considered one of the most serious crimes. Of course, you may not fully understand what that exact allegation means. Murder charges can come in varying degrees, and you will certainly want to understand what your charge means for your case and possible defense options.
Willful and premeditated
If authorities suspect that you committed first-degree murder, they suspect that the act was deliberate, willful and premeditated. Those three elements are typically the requirements for a first-degree murder charge to apply as opposed to a second- or third-degree charge. However, in some states, the following acts could warrant a first-degree murder charge even if the three elements are not present:
- The murder of a law enforcement officer
- The murder of a child due to unreasonable force
- When deaths occur during the commission of another crime, like rape, robbery or arson
- Killing someone as part of a pattern of domestic abuse
Of course, this list does not show all acts that could potentially result in first-degree murder charges absent of the three aforementioned elements.
A closer look at the elements
When it comes to having the intent to kill another person, that intent does not have to apply directly to the victim. For instance, an individual may intend to kill another person and choose a victim at random, or the person may intend to kill a specific person and kill the wrong person. In the latter case, the intent still exists even though the intended person was not the actual victim.
Additionally, when it comes to premeditation, this element does not mean that a person had to plan out every detail of the intended act. He or she must simply make the conscious decision to carry out an act of murder. However, this decision must be made before the actual killing and not during in order for it to constitute premeditation.
What can you do?
Even though you may face a serious ordeal when charged with first-degree murder, you will want to remember that you have legal options for creating and presenting a criminal defense. Gaining information from local Florida legal resources may help you better understand your viable courses of action.