The simple answer is because someone died during the commission of a felony. The full answer involves much more than that. One thing you should know right away is that a “felony murder” charge receives the same treatment as first-degree murder, which makes your circumstances quite serious.
If convicted, you could spend the rest of your life in prison or receive the death penalty. The more you know about this charge, the better informed you will be when it comes to structuring your defense. Fortunately, you do not have to go through this process alone, as one of your constitutional rights is to legal counsel.
First, some information about the charge itself
A first-degree murder charge under the felony murder rule does not require that you intended to kill anyone. As a matter of fact, you do not even have to be the one who did the killing to face this charge. Perhaps you were allegedly with someone during the commission of a felony, and the other person killed someone.
If you allegedly committed a felony alone and someone died, you could face this charge. Prosecutors could file felony murder charges against you if a bystander or victim kills someone during the commission of a felony in which someone has accused you of committing.
Second, some information on the felonies associated with this charge
Here in Florida, a variety of felony offenses could result in you facing murder charges under the felony murder rule:
- Trafficking illegal substances
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- Home invasion robbery
- Aircraft piracy
- Elder abuse
- Aggravated child abuse
As you can imagine, one of the first steps in challenging a felony murder charge is questioning whether a felony actually took place. If one did, then the question becomes whether the deceased individual died during the commission of the crime.
Third, some information about your rights
Remember that anything you say to police could end up as evidence against you in court. If police take you into custody, you may immediately request an attorney and invoke your right to remain silent. As soon as you do that, police must stop any questioning or may not question you at all. Cooperating with a police investigation could benefit you, but letting your attorney lead and control helps protect your rights.
In addition, you have the right to fair treatment. This not only applies to the times when you are in court and/or during your trial, but also while you are in police custody.