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Nature and Scope of Criminal Malice under Florida Law

I am neither a criminal attorney, nor licensed in Florida. I am a China criminal defense lawyer, so, perhaps those more knowledgeable and experienced can help me understand the following:

In their argument against acquittal yesterday, prosecution seemed to say that shooting someone straight on into the heart, close range, with a 9mm hollow point bullet is per se (though they didn't say 'per se') ill will, and that's how you get to 2nd degree murder.

Ok, one point: what they almost certainly said was not 'Ill will" but "Malice".

This is kind of important point; in law, 'malice' does NOT mean hatred, ill will, dislike, etc, but means "with actual knowledge (or actual intent) OR with reckless disregard of (the facts) (the result) (whatever)". In a Murder context this is how  you show intent; remember, in order to show murder you have to show that the accused intended to kill the person; it'd be really, really, easy to have defense counsel argue: "jury, prosecution has to show that my client intended to kill the dead person; in spite of the fact that my client shot him, they can't show that he intended to kill; maybe he was intending to wound; we've got reasonable doubt so my client walks". 

So, over the years, what has become a rule in murder trials is the "malice"
rule; intent to kill is presumed if the circumstances are such that the person would only do this IF they EITHER INTENDED the result OR where the circumstances are such that it shows "reckless disregard" for human life; i.e., no one is deliberately going to fire a gun loaded with real, lead bullets at another human being unless they either intend to kill them  or don't give a flying eff whether they kill them (that's reckless disregard for human life). 

So, what prosecution is arguing is that by shooting a 9 mm at close range at someone's hearts either Zimmerman intended to kill Trayvon OR that  he didn't care whether Trayvon lived or died; that's  your reckless disregard and your "Malice".

If I close my eyes and shoot into a crowd, I can be convicted of murder; even if I argue I didn't intend to kill someone; because my act of doing so shows that I didn't care whether I killed someone or not.

Contrast this with, say, I shoot a gun into my 25 acre woods, thinking it's'
empty of people and I don't' see any people and have no reason to think there's anyone in there; but it turns out homeless dude is living in the middle of the woods and he is struck and killed by bullet; the most they can prove is negligence, and convict of manslaughter.  Capice on the difference.

Just FWIW, by way of comparison; "Malice" in libel means "actual knowledge or reckless disregard of truth or falsity"
Malice in "Malicious prosecution' means "actual knowledge or reckless disregard of innocence".

Capice?  Malice doesn't equal hatred, it means you either know (or intend) OR don't care to know or don't care what the result is.

 

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