A charge of vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter in Florida is a serious one that is treated harshly by the State. These two offenses are very similar in nature as they both involve the killing of another human being or unborn child through the use of a motor vehicle. Any charge of a violent crime such as this is prosecuted aggressively by the State and can lead to severe punishments. If you are facing such a charge, you need the help of a knowledgeable, experienced, and confident criminal defense attorney.
Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Manslaughter?
The crime of vehicular homicide describes the act of taking the life of another person or unborn baby through the operation of a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. This offense is sometimes called “vehicular manslaughter” in Florida because intent is not a requisite for the crime; the law does not state that the one accused of the crime had to know the accident resulted in injury or death to be charged. Therefore, in Florida, they are one in the same crime.
Vehicular Homicide Charges in South Florida
To be convicted of vehicular homicide in Florida, the State needs to establish that you killed another person (or unborn child) by operating a vehicle in a reckless manner that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Even if the incident was an accident, a charge of vehicular homicide does not come from a mundane vehicle mishap like flat tire or poor road conditions but rather from the reckless and negligent actions someone took behind the wheel. In this way, an instance of vehicular homicide differs from a fatal accident.
What are the Penalties for Vehicular Homicide?
Vehicular homicide or manslaughter in Florida is a felony offense. Depending on the circumstances, it may be a second- or first-degree felony. A second-degree felony charge for vehicular manslaughter or homicide may result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of no more than 15 years without a dependable attorney on your side. You may also be required to serve up to 15 years of probation.
Vehicular homicide may be charged as a first-degree felony offense if the person who caused the accident failed to report it to law enforcement and/or failed to render reasonable aid to those who were injured. A conviction of vehicular homicide in the first degree may result in:
- Up to 30 years in prison and/or probation
- A fine of up to $10,000
If the State can prove that the defendant drove recklessly due to alcohol impairment and that that impairment lead to the death of another human being or unborn child, a person may face a charge of DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony offense.
Legal Defenses for Vehicular Homicide in West Palm Beach
Pretrial and trial defenses may be raised to avert the harshest consequences of a vehicular homicide conviction. Additionally, your criminal defense lawyer will investigate the facts of your particular case to find other applicable defenses. Possible defenses may include:
- Challenging the notion that you were engaged in reckless driving
- Arguing that the victim’s actions led to the crash
- Raising DUI defenses in case of DUI manslaughter
Arm Yourself with Tough Criminal Defense in West Palm Beach
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, attorney Brian Gabriel has defended those charged with serious felony offenses like vehicular manslaughter for over 25 years in West Palm Beach and surrounding areas. As a dedicated homicide defense lawyer, he may evaluate the facts of your case, reach out to witnesses, call in experts, and more to protect your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.