Florida Felony Murder Statute
In State v. Gray, 654 So. 2d 552 (Fla. 1995), the Court concluded that attempted felony murder was a nonexistent crime.
In 1996, the Legislature enacted section 782.051, Florida Statutes. Section 782.051 states:
"Any person who perpetrates or attempts to perpetrate any felony enumerated in s. 782.04(3) and who commits, aids, or abets an act that causes bodily injury to another commits a felony of the first degree . . . ." 782.051(1), Fla. Stat. (1997).
Admittedly, the language of this section is more expansive than our previous conception of the nonexistent crime of attempted felony murder because it requires bodily injury.
However, in 1998 the Legislature substantially rewrote this section and retitled it "Attempted felony murder."
Amended section 782.051(1) now provides: "Any person who perpetrates or attempts to perpetrate any felony enumerated in s. 782.04(3) and who commits, aids, or abets an intentional act that is not an essential element of the felony and that could, but does not, cause the death of another commits a felony of the first degree . . . ." 782.051(1), Fla. Stat. (1999).
Florida's felony-murder statute specifically lists the underlying offenses that can justify a conviction for first-degree felony murder. See 782.04(1)(a)2., Fla. Stat.
Aggravated child abuse is one of the enumerated felonies in the statute. The felony-murder statute provides that first-degree murder includes:
"The unlawful killing of a human being . . . when committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any . . . aggravated child abuse . . . ." 782.04(1)(a)2.h., Fla. Stat. Aggravated child abuse is defined as follows:
"Aggravated child abuse" occurs when a person:
(a) Commits aggravated battery on a child;
(b) Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
(c) Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child. 827.03(2), Fla. Stat. (2007).
The statute defines "maliciously" as follows:
For purposes of this section, "maliciously" means wrongfully, intentionally, and without legal justification or excuse. Maliciousness may be established by circumstances from which one could conclude that a reasonable parent would not have engaged in the damaging acts toward the child for any valid reason and that the primary purpose of the acts was to cause the victim unjustifiable pain or injury. 827.03(4), Fla. Stat.
When the Legislature added aggravated child abuse to the felony-murder statute, see ch. 84-16, 1, Laws of Fla., aggravated child abuse was defined as follows:
(1) Commits aggravated battery on a child;
(2) Willfully tortures a child;
(3) Maliciously punishes a child; or
(4) Willfully and unlawfully cages a child shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree . . . . 827.03, Fla. Stat. (1983).
The current provision specifying the types of aggravated child abuse was adopted in 1996. See ch. 96-322, 8, Laws of Fla.