Criminality of Assisted Suicide in Florida
The laws and regulations that govern American society often reflect views that most Americans have when rules are created. While the U.S. Constitution guarantees a separation between church and state, religious concepts often play a foundational part in various legal systems. Consider, for example, the moral laws of not taking the life of another person or that stealing is inherently wrong.
Another issue involving moral laws that has garnered heated debates concerning its place within the American legal system is the criminality of assisted suicide.
What Are the Current Laws in the United States on Assisted Suicide?
Today, several states within the U.S. have laws regarding assisted suicide, also known as Death with Dignity Laws, including:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
The scope and the right to practice assisted suicide are legal in these states only under extremely limited circumstances that involve either the person being terminally ill and self-administering the drug from their physician that will end their life.
In the State of Florida, there are no laws that include circumstances for which assisted suicide is made lawful. Florida Statute 782.08 affirms that anyone who intentionally causes or aids another person to commit self-murder will be guilty of manslaughter, a felony offense of the second-degree.
Individuals Who Participate in Assisted Suicide Face Criminal Charges in the U.S.
Florida and other states that have not passed legislation on assisted suicide are presently dealing with a rise in the number of individuals and organizations that provide terminally ill individuals the choice to end their life.
The most prominent recent case involving assisted suicide was that of Dr. Kevorkian, often called Dr. Death. Dr. Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder in 1999 after participating in more than 130 assisted suicides. He was punished with a prison sentence of 10–25 years, of which he served eight years before his passing in 2011.
As a consequence of this notorious case, individuals and organizations have become increasingly engaged in administering life-ending techniques, with the judicial system uncertain of what characterizes “assistance.”
How Do Criminal Laws Define “Assistance”?
A person may be charged criminally for assisted suicide only when they physically help another individual end their life—often by providing medication known to terminate human life. However, to give a stern message, some courts in the U.S. endeavor to define “assistance” in the broader sense, mainly when a person supplied all the tools needed to assist suicide.
Do Florida Laws Provide Options for Terminally Ill Patients?
There are currently no laws in the State of Florida that permit any legitimate form of assisted suicide. In January 2020, the first “Death with Dignity” bill in Florida, Senate Bill 1800, was introduced to provide terminally ill patients the opportunity to request medications for assisted suicide. The bill was withdrawn in March, however, keeping Florida laws strictly opposed to assisted suicide.
Florida laws have instead aimed toward providing options for critically ill patients. In 2015, Senate Bill 1052, Florida’s “Right to Try” Act, went into effect. Under this law, terminally ill patients have the legal right to use experimental drugs and treatments that have not been approved by the FDA to help their condition.
Retain a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in Central Florida
If you or a loved one faces charges for helping in an assisted suicide, it is vital to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience in these complex cases. At The Umansky Law Firm, our team of criminal defense lawyers has represented countless clients facing severe criminal allegations throughout Florida. We take a personalized approach to each case to ensure our clients receive the individualized attention they deserve. Our commitment to securing favorable outcomes for our clients is demonstrated by numerous 5-star reviews and recognitions such as a “10.0 Superb” rating with Avvo.
To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your situation, schedule a free consultation today by calling 407-228-3838 or complete an online contact form.