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What is Felony Murder?

Tampa criminal lawyers are often asked about Florida’s felony murder statute.   Many Tampa criminal lawyers criticize Florida’s felony murder statute and jurisprudence as it has had significant unintended consequences.  Our Tampa criminal lawyers have personally seen situations, where individuals with absolutely no intent or interest to commit murder have been charged with it under the above-referenced doctrine with catastrophic consequences.  It gained significant national attention during the Casey Anthony trial as it was argued in connection with the allegations of Felony Child Abuse by the State Attorney’s Office.  Many national commentators, apparently unfamiliar with Florida’s felony murder statute, seemingly failed to understand the niceties of the doctrine.

Florida Statute § 782.04, provides that it is a murder in the first degree when a death of a non-participant occurs during the commission, attempt to commit, or escape from the commission of felonies enumerated within the above-referenced Statute.   The Statute provides for very specific enumerated felonies.  Many Tampa criminal lawyers have harsh criticism of the Statute and its unjust impact on parties.

The most common legal defense to felony murder is the independent act doctrine.   It involves the defendant arguing that the defendant lacked intent for the murder and it wasn’t reasonably foreseeable.  Obviously, the lack of intent is more than likely a given, if felony murder is involved.  The real litigation and arguments occur regarding the second portion – the foreseeability issue.  Florida courts, jurisprudence and judges differ on this standard and its implementation.  Tampa criminal lawyers ultimately will have to determine how to best apply the facts of your case to the specifics of the court and judge in the case.   Obviously, the applicability of this defense is very fact specific and relies purely on the specific facts of the case.  More often than not, its potential for success will require very, very favorable facts including exculpatory statements from the defendant to assist in their own defense.

If you or someone you know has questions concerning felony murder, please contact our office for a free case consultation.  If you would like to contact one of our Tampa criminal lawyers immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website.  We appreciate your time in checking out our Tampa criminal lawyer’s blog and look forward to hearing from you.