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Do Cheeseburgers Constitute Adequate Provocation?

A Florida man is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly killing his brother in an argument that started over a cheeseburger. It is alleged that the man and his brother were home together with their mother over Mother’s Day weekend when they began arguing over about a cheeseburger. The argument ended when the man obtained a 9mm handgun and shot his brother in the chest. The brother died in the home from his wounds. While the brother is alleged to have been drinking prior to the fatal argument, the man claimed that he himself was not drinking.

Premeditation in Homicide Cases

The man is charged with first-degree murder in this case because law enforcement and prosecutors believe the man “premeditated” prior to killing his brother. The term “premeditated” or “premeditation” is an important one but also one that can be difficult to define. At its core, “premeditation” connotes an idea of thoughtfulness or deliberation – that the individual considered the decision to kill another person before the killing actually occurred. Thus, if a person is subjected to circumstances which are so overwhelming or aggravating that a reasonable person would not have been able to control his or her emotions but would have immediately reacted in a violent manner, there can be no “premeditation.” The classic example is the spouse who comes home and finds his or her spouse in the arms of another and, in a “blind rage,” kills the other person on the spot. While the spouse may be guilty of a homicide offense, that homicide offense will not be premeditated, first-degree murder. In the cheeseburger incident, for example, it is unclear how much time elapsed between the commencement of the argument and the time the man allegedly fired the fatal shot.

That being said, there is no requirement that a certain amount of time elapse in order for a criminal intent to kill form in the mind of the defendant. Premeditation can occur over a multi-hour or multi-day period; it can also form in a matter of mere seconds. For example, it can be argued that the time it takes to grab a gun, point it at the victim, and pull the trigger is enough time to “premeditate.” The key issue is not so much how much time elapsed but whether the time that did elapse was sufficient for an ordinary person to deliberate over his or her actions.  (While time is not the determinative factor, it is still a relevant inquiry: The more time that elapses between an infuriating event – such as an argument over a cheeseburger, for example – and the time of the killing, the more likely it is that premeditation occurred).

How Your South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Will Help

Even if it is clear you killed another person, evidence of premeditation may be lacking. While you may still be convicted of a homicide offense, the penalties for homicide are considerably less significant when the killing is committed without premeditation. Before accepting a plea offer in a homicide case, have your case evaluated by Jeffrey S. Weiner. Florida criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has represented numerous clients who have been charged with homicide offenses and will make sure you fully understand the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and your legal options. Contact his office today to set up your free initial case consultation: Call (305) 670-9919 or contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. online.

Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys, is located in Miami, Florida and serves the following communities: Alachua County, Gainesville, Orlando, Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, Collier County, Naples, Hillsborough County, Tampa, Indian River County, Vero Beach, Lee County, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Manatee County, Sarasota, Marion County, Ocala, Ocklawaha, Miami-Dade County, Hialeah, Homestead, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach, and North Miami Beach.
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