Search Site
The Crime of Manslaughter: Florida State Law

If accused of manslaughter, be sure to secure a seasoned defense team, such as that at Paul J. Donnelly, P.A., Miami, Florida. Although manslaughter, which is the unlawful killing of another person without preplanning or malice, is considered to be less serious than murder, it still carries life-changing penalties, including prison time and large fines. It’s important that those who are charged with manslaughter thoroughly understand the serious nature of this crime.

Manslaughter in Florida

There are two different types of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary, and then three specific methods or instances of manslaughter that are classified in Florida. Two methods are categorized as being voluntary and the other involuntary.

The three methods of manslaughter and their definitions are:

  • Manslaughter by Act: This is a form of voluntary manslaughter, which involves an act that is intentional and causes another human being’s death. The act is not considered to be justifiable, nor is it excusable.
  • Manslaughter by Procurement: This involves a person encouraging, suggesting, or convincing someone to commit an act against another person, which then results in the killing of that person. This is also considered to be voluntary manslaughter.
  • Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence: In the State of Florida, this is involuntary manslaughter and it involves someone being negligent, and through their negligence, being responsible for the death of another person.

Aggravated Manslaughter

Along with defending those accused of any of the three methods of manslaughter listed and described above, the team at Paul J. Donnelly, P.A., also defends those accused of aggravated manslaughter. Aggravated manslaughter is a heightened form of this crime. A charge of aggravated manslaughter is brought when certain circumstances are in place.

Instances include, causing the death of an elderly person or someone under the age of 18 years due to the accused’s negligence. Also causing the death of a fire or rescue worker in the same manner falls under this category. This serious charge is classified as a first degree felony that is punishable in Florida by life in prison.

Using a Weapon or Firearm

When manslaughter occurs and a weapon or firearm is involved the charge is no longer considered to be a second degree felony; instead, it is classified as a more serious first degree felony. In this instance, the jury in the State of Florida determines if a weapon or firearm has been used in this manner.

Manslaughter Penalties in Florida

Manslaughter is a second degree felony in the state, and if you are convicted of this crime, there is a specified minimum sentence that must be utilized by the judge. Additional prison time may also be imposed.

The minimum time one is sentenced to prison for manslaughter is 9 ¼ years. Additional penalties may include the following:

  • Prison time totaling15 years
  • Probation for up to 15 years
  • A total of $10,000 in fines

Defenses in Manslaughter

In addition to considering a defense specific to your case, the team at Paul J. Donnelly, P.A., will also weigh certain factors that may excuse you from a charge of manslaughter. The three primary defenses are self-defense, justifiable homicide, and excusable homicide.

Self Defense

Self-defense is the justifiable use of force to defend oneself, to defend one’s property, if someone is committing a felony against a person in his/her home, or to defend another person. The State of Florida recognizes these actions as viable defenses in murder and manslaughter cases. When using this defense, it is essential that the amount of force one uses in self-defense is in direct proportion to the actual threat.

Justifiable Homicide

Justifiable homicide is also permitted as defense. A homicide is considered to be justifiable when you kill someone who is trying to kill you, or when the person you kill is committing a felony against you.

Excusable Homicide

There are three circumstances in Florida when the killing of someone is considered to be excusable, and, in turn, lawful.

These are:

  • When the killing that is committed is done without unlawful intentions, and in that event normal and ordinary caution has been used. In essence, the killing has been the result of an accident and misfortune.
  • When the killing occurs in the heat of passion and is provoked in a sudden manner that would lead to such actions. Once again, the killing has to have been the result of an accident and misfortune. The intention of the person acting was not to kill the person.
  • When the killing is connected to sudden combat and it occurs due to accident and misfortune. The killer must not have used a dangerous weapon, and the method of killing may not have been accomplished in a cruel or unusual manner.

Related Information:

Miami Manslaughter Lawyer

Contact the team at Paul J. Donnelly Miami, Florida, at 305-757-3331 if you have been charged with manslaughter. Our lawyers have ample courtroom experience in defending manslaughter cases and will work with you to determine the best possible defense and to make sure that you receive every benefit of due process of law. Protect your right to a fair trial. We will fight for you through every part of the judicial process.



Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Office Location
  • Miami Office
    1 N.E. 2nd Avenue
    Suite 200
    Miami, Florida 33132
    Phone: 305-757-3331