Heat of Passion is a Recognized Defense to the Charge of Murder in Florida

          In the courts of Florida, heat of passion is recognized as a defense to the crimes of first and second-degree murder.

 

          Heat of passion is a mental state provoked by fear, rage, anger or terror that, combined with adequate provocation, is a defense to the crimes of first and second degree murder. Provocation, in order to be adequate, must be such as might naturally cause a reasonable person in the passion of the moment to lose self-control and act on impulse and without reflection.

 

          An example of someone who relied upon the heat of passion defense occurred in the case of Villella v. State of Florida.  In that case, Mr. Villella, who was charged with the first-degree murder of his wife, argued that the stabbing of his wife was not premeditated but was instead a crime of passion committed after he learned that his wife was having an affair and intended to leave him and take their child with her.

 

          The jury heard Villella's two tape-recorded interviews with the police in which he told them that he suspected his wife was having an affair because she was making and receiving unusual telephone calls.  He also told the police that she was staying out late drinking and was, on one of those occasions, driven home by another man.  In addition, Villella found an intimate letter written by his wife to the man who had driven her home.  When Villella confronted his wife with his suspicions, she admitted that she was indeed having an affair with that same man.

 

          Tthe trial judge did not, however, let the jury hear any evidence about the fact that the man whom Ms. Villella was having an affair with had previously admitted that he had had such an affair and that he had driven her home on one occasion.  The judge refused to let the jury hear that evidence because he believed it was irrelevant. 

 

          Villella was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and appealed his conviction to Florida's Fifth Distict Court of Appeal.

 

          Fortunately for Mr. Villella, the appellate court disagreed with the trial judge and granted Villella a new trial since it believed that such evidence would have corroborated Villella's statements to the police that his wife was having an affair and that it would also have shown that his belief that his wife was having an affair had merit to it and was not simply a lie made up in an attempt to get away with murder.

 

 

      If you have been arrested for murder or any other violent crime in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, St. Lucie County, Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, or Miami-Dade County, call me, attorney Ron Chapman, at 561-832-4348 to discuss your case and see how I might be able to help you.

 

 

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