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Attempted Murder Defense Attorney in Pensacola, Florida

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida has a homicide rate of 7.8 persons for every 100,000 citizens. Homicides are not necessarily the same as murder but refer to the death of one person because of another person’s actions or negligence. Homicides also include manslaughter and self-defense. 

Even an attempt at killing another person is considered a serious crime. In Florida, a charge of attempted murder can result in nearly the same criminal penalties as murder itself, including life in prison. 

If you are under investigation for attempted murder or are facing a charge of attempted murder in or around Pensacola, Florida, contact the criminal defense attorney at Panhandle Defense Firm. Attorney Tom McGuire treats all his clients as family, and with a background as a public defender and 35 years of experience in defending others, he brings insights and an understanding of the justice system that other attorneys may lack. He will fight aggressively in your defense, seeking the best possible outcome. 

The Panhandle Law Firm serves clients throughout Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties including Milton, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and the rest of the state. 

What Is Attempted Murder in the Eyes of the Law? 

Florida Statute 777.04 addresses what it terms criminal attempt: “A person who attempts to commit an offense prohibited by law and in such attempt does any act toward the commission of such offense, but fails in the perpetration or is intercepted or prevented in the execution thereof, commits the offense of criminal attempt….” 

Note the wording “an offense prohibited by law,” and then consider the concept of murder—the intentional taking of another person’s life—and you have a picture of what attempted murder involves. On its most basic level, attempted murder is a murder trial that doesn’t succeed or is prevented. 

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How Do Prosecutors Prove Attempted Murder? 

If you merely contemplate the murder of another person, that does not generally cross over into the crime of attempted murder. For attempted murder to occur, you must take what is called the “first step” toward committing the crime. In other words, your actions must go beyond mere preparation—thinking about doing the act—and into perpetration. The first steps can include: 

  • Stalking, tracking, or ambushing: If you try to track the victim down or lay an ambush in your desire to murder a person, you have taken the first step. 

  • Luring: If you try to lure someone you intend to kill into a situation or place where you can commit the crime, this is also considered a first step. 

  • Breaking-in: If you take the concrete step of breaking into someone’s home or property in a desire to murder that person, you have also taken the first step. 

  • Constructing: This means that you have assembled or are assembling the devices, such as a bomb, necessary to commit the murder. 

  • Soliciting: You engage others to help you in your murder attempt. 

Along with proving a first step was taken, the prosecutors must also show that you had the intent to act or the intent to kill. Intent to act means you had the intention of committing the first step, for instance, by purchasing the pieces to build a bomb. Intent to kill is a higher legal hurdle for prosecutors, for they must show that your intention was to kill and not just scare, harm, or maim another person. 

Consequences of Attempted Murder 

Attempted murder is categorized by degrees. First-degree attempted murder means that your actions were premeditated. This could involve other crimes such as arson, aggravated battery, sexual assault, burglary, or carjacking. It could also involve aiding and abetting someone in those crimes that result in attempts at murder. 

Second-degree attempted murder can be levied when prosecutors cannot prove premeditation. Second-degree attempted murder often involves acts done with a callous disregard for human life. 

If you are convicted of first-degree attempted murder, you might be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, along with a fine of up to $10,000. For attempted murder in the second degree, you can face a prison term of 15 years, probation time of 15 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. 

Potential Defenses for an Attempted Murder Charge 

Defenses to a charge of attempted murder start with showing that you lacked the intent to carry out the act and/or that you never took the first step. In other words, preparation—thinking about the murder—never evolved into perpetration. 

You can also argue that what you did was done in self-defense. Impossibility is another defense. In this line or argument, you must show that it was impossible to actually carry out the murder. For instance, a bomb you built was nonfunctional.  

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Pensacola, Florida 

An attempted murder charge carries some serious consequences, including prison time that may last your entire life, as well as societal implications. Your criminal record will make it hard for you to gain employment, housing, public benefits, and more. If charged with attempted murder, you need to enlist a strong legal team. If you’re in or around Pensacola, Florida, contact Panhandle Defense Firm. Reach out immediately to Attorney Tom McGuire to get started on your defense.