A St. Johns County jury found a man guilty last month – but not of the first-degree charge the state indicted him on. Instead, the man was found guilty of second-degree murder and kidnapping, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the man and his roommate beat another man to death and tried to burn the body and a car on a deserted road, the newspaper reported. The roommate pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier and agreed to testify against the man who went to trial in the case, the newspaper reported.
The difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder can be enormous when it comes to sentencing and this St. Johns County Violent Crimes Case is no different. If a person is convicted of first-degree murder in Florida, there are only two sentencing options: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. If the charge is second-degree murder, the judge has far more latitude in terms of issuing a sentence. Life in prison is still an option, and many people are sentenced to life in prison on second-degree murder charges, but there is at least a chance now that this 27-year-old defendant will be released.
For a person to be found guilty of first-degree murder, the state must be able to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a premeditated intent to kill another person. In this St. Johns County Murder Case, the jury apparently had an issue with determining premeditation. Second-degree murder, however is defined by statute as: “The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.” During a St. Johns County Criminal Trial, jurors are informed of the charges against the defendant, but also in most cases given a list of other charges that they could apply. These are called “lesser included charges,” and this St. Johns County Murder Case is an example of a jury choosing that option.
Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charged with all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to provide you with all of your options going forward.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.