State of Florida v. George Zimmerman

by Mathew Baughman*

We’ve all heard about the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial that began on June 24, 2013. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The judge instructed the jury to first consider second-degree murder, but if that initial charge wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt then to consider manslaughter, a lesser included crime. We wanted to see what the differences are, if any, between these crimes in Florida and Texas. Does it make a difference how the legislature drafts the law? This table displays the statute for second-degree murder and manslaughter as described by Florida and Texas.

TXFLgraph

Second Degree Murder:
The first, and most obvious, difference between Florida and Texas is that a defendant in Florida charged with second-degree murder must then be found guilty or not guilty, while the same defendant in Texas must be found guilty of murder and then prove an act of passion to be considered for second-degree murder during the punishment stage of the trial.
Manslaughter:
Texas has a more general description, while Florida is more specific. Texas requires the “reckless death” of an individual, while Florida includes a defense of “lawful justification” in its statute.

Do these differences make a difference? Let us know your thoughts.
For further questions you can contact our office at (936) 294-1717 or by email slms@shsu.edu. Student Legal & Mediation Services is located in LSC 330.

Information provided does NOT constitute legal advice. It is intended for information and educational purposes only.

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