Florida Man Charged With Murder of Eight Year Old Charish Perriwinkle

Donald James Smith, 56, has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Charish Perriwinkle. Charish went missing Friday night after Smith befriended the child at a dollar store and then offered to buy her clothes at Wal-Mart, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

It is always unfortunate when a child dies. However, it is also unfortunate when a charge is misapplied to the case. In this case, the proper charge of murder, which is the premeditated, intentional killing of a human being, also the most serious criminal accusation the State of Florida can bring. As such, the punishments are both significant and severe and may include either life in prison or the death penalty. images%20%284%29.jpg

A death is normally classified as a homicide case when it happens in conjunction with the completion or attempt to commit another crime, such as arson, kidnapping, sexual battery or stalking. The level of intent to kill determines the differences between first and second degree murder. First degree is the result of a willful act with the intent to kill. A homicide is considered second degree murder when it happens as the result of an intentional criminal act, even though the perpetrator may not have meant to kill someone.

Remember, not every death that occurs at the hands of another individual is considered murder. Deaths can occur as a result of self-defense, when a pregnant woman is injured or killed and her unborn child dies, assisting in a suicide, when an automobile is involved in a death, and many other situations. In some cases, you can face homicide charges when a death is completely unintended or accidental.

One of the most common of these death related offenses that does not require the intent to kill is vehicular homicide. In Florida, when a person is killed as a result of another person operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner that is likely to cause death and great bodily harm, the death of that person is a vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide can be a felony of the first or second degree. Vehicular homicide can carry penalties that include large fines, years of prison time, as well as community service hours.

People are involved in situations like this unfortunately all across America. Not every one of those situations was the product of intent to kill anyone. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, ensuring the court has a real understanding, and not the State Attorney-created image that is so often painted for the Judge.

If one is accused of crime that resulted in a death, one is facing very serious charges that can alter the rest of one’s life. If one is in a situation like this, one should obtain an experienced Jacksonville homicide crimes defense attorney who will fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected. The memory of details fade quickly. Evidence can become lost or handled in a way that will not serve one’s best interests.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Sex offender charged with Florida girl’s death, The Bradenton-Herald