Vehicular homicide, also known as vehicular manslaughter, is the death of a person (or fatal injury to a fetus caused by injury to the pregnant mother) caused by a motor accident that was the result of reckless or unlawful driving. The law is outlined in Florida Statute 782.071.
Burden of Proof in a Vehicular Homicide Case
In order for a driver to be found guilty of vehicular homicide, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s negligent or reckless driving was likely to cause the kind of harm that occurred as a result – to wit, the death or grave bodily injury of another person, be it a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.
The jury will be instructed that reckless driving is a lesser-included charge if the cause of death is disputed, and it’s possible that your criminal defense attorney will be able to show that there is not enough evidence to demonstrate that your driving behavior was likely to inflict grave bodily harm.
The jury will also be instructed that the prosecutor does not have to prove that you intended to harm someone; in a reckless driving and vehicular homicide case, intent is unnecessary.
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide from Reckless Driving
In Florida, vehicular homicide can be punishable as either a first degree or second degree felony. A second degree felony carries with it up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the second degree felony accident occurred and the person should have known it was likely to occur, and then gave false information to a law enforcement agent or failed to provide aid to someone injured when they were able to, then the crime is prosecuted as a first degree felony.
According to the Ladah Law Firm, in Las Vegas, if a driver leaves the scene of an accident and is later convicted of vehicular homicide, the charge will be a first degree felony as well.
A first degree felony can be punished by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, you can face increased difficulty finding a job or engaging in other activities that require a background check. Your permanent record will be marred with a felony that will haunt you for years to come.
An attorney may, however, be able to alleviate some of the burden of handling your case and strategize a means to lessen the charges against you or have your charges reduced to a lesser criminal offense. This isn’t guaranteed, however; it always depends on the specific details of your case.
If you or someone you know has been charged with vehicular homicide in Florida, it is imperative that you involve an experienced criminal defense attorney in the case as soon as possible.
The sooner that a lawyer begins to work on your case, the more likely it is that he or she will be able to mitigate the consequences or negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges possibly reduced or render a more lenient sentencing recommendation.
When your freedom is at stake, only trust an attorney who you feel has the background to aggressively fight your charges and protect your rights.
Contacting a Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
If you are facing criminal charges for vehicular homicide, your legal team is your best defense. The defense team you choose to represent you in court, defend your rights, and relentlessly pursue your case could be the difference between jail time and getting on with your life. Contact the criminal defense team at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – 1-877-663-5110.