Murder / Manslaughter in Pinellas County

Homicide Defense Lawyer for St. Petersburg

For fifteen years, Timothy Hessinger served the people of this State as a prosecuting attorney handling numerous high profile murder cases. While in the Major Crimes Division from 1997 to 2005, Tim was responsible for prosecuting every child murder in Pinellas County and understands the inherent complexities of a child homicide or “shaken baby” case. Often times the State lacks eyewitness testimony and a solid “confession” and must therefore utilize medical experts exclusively to establish identity, intent, cause, and manner of death. As such, child homicide or “shaken baby” cases frequently involve a “battle of the experts.” Effective representation requires an attorney with a thorough understanding of the dynamics that are specific to these types of cases.

Having built all varieties of homicide prosecutions for so many years, Tim knows where to look for potential weaknesses. As each case is unique, the most effective defense strategy may involve attacking the reliability of witness testimony, including “identity” witnesses, forensic analyses that purportedly link an accused person to the crime scene, or, in some situations (such as DUI manslaughter), the element of “causation.”

Possible Defenses

Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, an effective defense may involve the raising of what is called an “affirmative defense”, such as justifiable use of deadly force, insanity, or even alibi. For example, a person is legally justified in using deadly force if he or she believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another person. Moreover, under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, a person has no duty to retreat if he or she is attacked in any place where he or she has a lawful right to be. Often times, Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law can be an effective tool in defending an accused person on murder or manslaughter charges.

Sometimes, people can suffer from extreme mental infirmities to the extent that they lack the capacity to realize that their actions are “wrong.” Under such circumstances, that person can plead, through his or her attorney, “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity.” Where this affirmative defense is raised, the State has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused not only committed the offense, but was fully aware that his or her actions were “wrong” at the time it was committed. The insanity defense can also be an effective tool in defending an accused person in homicide cases.

In other situations, the State may have unwittingly charged the wrong person. It is possible for an “eyewitness” to make a misidentification, which results in the wrong person being prosecuted. Although this scenario is rare, under such circumstances, raising “Alibi” as an affirmative defense, and listing credible witnesses who will testify that the accused was in another location at the same time a murder was committed, can potentially create some significant proof issues for the State.

Murder Representation by a Former Prosecutor

The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger has defended clients on murder and manslaughter charges. Our firm takes homicide cases throughout the St. Petersburg area, to include: First Degree Murder (premeditated), Felony Murder (causing death in committing another felony), Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, DUI/Vehicular Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Shaken Baby Syndrome or other fatal child abuse, and all other forms of negligent homicide.

At The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger, our first line of defense is to present potential weaknesses in the State’s case, as applicable, to the prosecutor before a formal charging document is ever filed. This may result in the State filing a less serious degree of homicide, waiving the death penalty, or in some instances, not filing charges at all. We are also prepared to take your case to a jury trial if necessary. We have experience lining up the expert testimony that can be critical to effectively defending homicide charges.

Our team understands what is at stake for our clients in homicide cases, given the severity of penalties that are so often imposed following a conviction. We are fully committed to zealously and ethically representing each and every one of our clients in courtrooms throughout the St. Petersburg area. Call (888) 863-7415, or contact us online for a free initial consultation.

Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation!

Get In Touch