Causing a fatal accident while you are driving behind the wheel of a car can carry a prison sentence of 30 years. Vehicular homicide in Florida is treated as a felony and depending on the circumstances, can be classified as a 1st degree felony or a 2nd degree felony. If you were intoxicated at the time of the accident, you may be charged with DUI Manslaughter, which carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison. For more about changing DUI laws see our recent discussion here. What you are charged with hinges on the degree to which the prosecution can prove you showed a disregard for human life. Every fact and every piece of evidence builds the foundation of a solid defense and if not well documented early on, the facts and evidence become harder to rely on.
It Can Happen to Anyone
Although most vehicular homicide convictions are treated as a 2nd degree felony, which carries a lesser sentence of up to 15 years, spending any amount of time in jail is a devastating interruption of your life. Generally, when we think of someone going to prison for taking another person’s life, there is a motive behind the killing. Most of us cannot conceive that we might end up spending years in prison for killing another person simply because we made a bad decision behind the wheel of a car.
Recently a scooter driver was killed in Clearwater, Florida when a man in a car ran a red light and failed to stop in time before crashing into the scooter. Despite the intersection being notoriously dangerous and despite the fact that a scooter will almost always lose a battle with a car, the driver of the car was arrested because he failed to yield to a red light and because officers found “signs of impairment”. Driving has its risks even in the best of conditions but tragically, mistakes do happen. The question becomes whether your mistakes were reckless.
What is Reckless Driving?
Killing a person, even by accident, is considered homicide and a person can be convicted of it despite never having bad intentions. In order to be convicted of vehicular homicide in Florida, you must have been driving recklessly at the time the accident occurred. Exactly how reckless will determine the severity of the charge. The legal definition of “reckless” is complicated and determined by numerous factors. Florida laws define a reckless driver as “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Numerous court cases have shaped the way the judge will interpret whether you exhibited “wanton disregard” and the facts and the evidence gathered early on by your defense team will be invaluable in demonstrating otherwise.
What Should You Do if Your Facing a Vehicular Homicide Charge?
Defending yourself in a vehicular homicide case is complicated and requires legal expertise. If you you’ve been charged with vehicular homicide, or suspect that you might be charged, there are immediate steps you must take to put forth the best defense possible. Henderson Legal Group offers free consultations and our dedicated team works with you to provide your strongest defenses for homicide cases. We’ve successfully defended numerous homicide cases and we know from experience that seeking legal help right away will is imperative.