A Jacksonville man initially facing up to life in prison when he went to trial on a second-degree murder charge was sentenced last week to 15 years in state prison. Aaron Kaiser was found guilty of shooting and killing his neighbor, whom he’d argued with for years, outside their apartment complex, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Kaiser allegedly shot him four times and Kaiser went to trial on a second-degree murder charge, the newspaper reported. The sentence for second-degree murder is between 25 years and life in prison.
The jury instead found him guilty of manslaughter, which is known as a lesser included offense. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony while second-degree murder is a first-degree felony, so the range of potential prison time is significant for defendants in Jacksonville Violent Crimes Cases. The distinction between second-degree murder and manslaughter was in the news recently in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Central Florida man who shot and killed teen-ager Trayvon Martin after the two were in a fight. In nearly all murder cases, including the Zimmerman case, jurors are permitted to consider manslaughter if they did not see reasonable doubt for second-degree murder.
In Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, more juries and judges are now frequently reducing murder charges down to manslaughter, as was done in the case of Kaiser. Now, it is reasonable to believe that the judge did not agree in this case because she handed down the maximum sentence for manslaughter. The difference between second-degree murder and manslaughter in Jacksonville Violent Crimes cases is the intent to kill. It does not have to be planned or premeditated, that’s first-degree murder. For second-degree murder, a person does not have to plan to kill some, but, when the incident is taking place, whether the person has a gun or a knife or a car, the intent to kill someone. In manslaughter, what often occurs is people are in a fight and someone ends up dying. The Florida Statutes define manslaughter as, “The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification …”. That can be from a variety of things, including a fight.
Lesser included crimes can be a key in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, and jurors often look to them as a compromise, a way to give a little part of the verdict to both sides. They can play in both directions for the defendant. In Kaiser’s case, it helps shave off years of his sentence. In other cases, someone who was justified in taking a life through self-defense can end up incarcerated because the jury felt he or she had to be punished in some way.
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 Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.