Zimmerman has maintained that he was acting in self-defense, while the attorney for Martin’s family says the shooting was racially-motivated.
The two attorneys who had been representing Zimmerman withdrew from the case Tuesday, saying he had taken actions without consulting them and that they did not know where he is.
The charges that Zimmerman could face include second-degree murder and manslaughter.
First-degree murder is not an option because Corey did not take the case to a grand jury, according to law enforcement officials.
Murder in the second degree, under Florida law, is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.”
To charge Zimmerman with murder in the second degree, the state would need to prove that he committed the act “regardless of human life.”
Zimmerman’s attorneys, however, could argue the shooting was “lawful” because it was done in self-defense.
A conviction of murder in the second degree is punishable by life in prison under Florida law.
The other possible charge, manslaughter, is defined as a killing done without premeditation, and is often handed down when the killer is judged to have been caught in the “heat of the moment.”
Under Florida law, manslaughter is described as “the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification... and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder.”
An argument of negligence in this case could be made if prosecutors proved Zimmerman followed Martin, even after a police dispatcher told him not to.
A conviction of manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.