Orlando Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyer
Vehicular manslaughter, known as vehicular homicide in Florida, is a very serious charge. While any death that occurs on the roadway may be a tragedy, that does not mean that it should always result in a criminal conviction. Accidents happen, and people should not be sent to prison for a simple mistake or an Act of God. In many cases, the conduct of the defendant charged with manslaughter is more appropriate for a minor traffic infraction but is elevated to a felony criminal matter because, unfortunately, someone was killed. We do not believe that a chance of fate, outside of your control, should determine whether you get a speeding ticket or instead spend years in prison.
The Orlando vehicular manslaughter defense lawyers at the Joshi Law Firm, PA fight for the rights of Florida drivers charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Florida defendants have the best opportunity to present their side of the case. If there is a deferral or other alternative procedure available that will not result in a conviction, we’ll find it. If there’s a lesser charge that is available via plea bargain, we’ll negotiate the best deal available. If you are facing unfounded charges that should be kicked entirely, we’ll fight for the justice you deserve. Call the central Florida vehicular manslaughter defense lawyers at the Joshi Law Firm, PA today to protect your rights and your freedom.
Defining Vehicular Manslaughter/Homicide Under Florida Law
Florida Statute § 782.071 defines vehicular homicide as “the killing of a human being” as a result of “the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” Thus, to obtain a conviction for vehicular homicide, a Florida prosecutor must demonstrate that:
- The defendant was driving;
- The defendant was driving in a manner so reckless as to likely seriously injure or kill another person; and
- Due to the defendant’s reckless driving, another person was killed
The statute also covers the death of an unborn child caused by injury to the pregnant mother.
Vehicular homicide is a lesser included offense of manslaughter, meant to bridge the gap between manslaughter through culpable negligence and the non-criminal traffic offense of reckless driving. Importantly, the defendant’s driving must be criminally reckless to give rise to vehicular manslaughter charges. Simple negligence is not sufficient, even if someone is accidentally killed.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
Vehicular manslaughter is typically chargeable as a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Certain conduct can raise the charge to a first-degree felony, such as if the defendant knew or should have known of the crash and fled the scene rather than rendering aid or reporting the accident to law enforcement or emergency services. A driver who flees the scene after a reckless driving crash causing the death of a victim can face up to 30 years in prison.
If the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the crash, they can be charged with DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of four years.
What Counts as “Reckless Driving”?
To convict a defendant for vehicular homicide, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant was driving in a criminally reckless manner. According to Florida law, a person is guilty of “reckless driving” when they drive “any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
The defendant must be intentionally driving dangerously or must be consciously and intentionally disregarding the risk of their conduct and the likelihood of causing harm to another person or property. Speeding, for example, may be evidence of reckless driving, but it is not in and of itself sufficient to show recklessness. On the other hand, drivers have been convicted of vehicular homicide even if they were not speeding.
Florida courts have explained that evaluating whether a defendant was engaged in reckless driving is a “fact intensive, ad hoc inquiry” that should focus on the “actions of the defendant and, considering the circumstances, whether it was reasonably foreseeable that death or great bodily harm could result.” Driving a large truck at excessive speeds while rounding a sharp curve, for example, would be reckless, as would passing on the right or shoulder at high speeds during heavy traffic. Going a bit over the posted speed limit in light traffic, on the other hand, is unlikely to constitute reckless driving for the purposes of vehicular homicide.
Call an Experienced Florida Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyer Today
The vehicular manslaughter defense legal team at the Joshi Law Firm, PA is ready to fight for you, your family, and your rights. Please contact our office for further inquiry or if you would like to set up a consultation. Call today at 407-661-1109 to start building your defense.