Vehicular homicide is a serious crime with severe penalties attached. It’s a separate crime from negligent driving, murder, or manslaughter. While negligent driving subjects an individual to civil liabilities and criminal driving conduct, vehicular homicide subjects individuals to incarceration and other severe criminal sanctions. Understanding what constitutes an act of vehicular homicide will help you determine how best to proceed with your unique circumstances. If you have been charged with vehicular homicide or believe that you may face allegations of this nature, retaining expert legal counsel is essential. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your case may be, an experienced vehicular homicide defense lawyer can help you protect your rights as an individual.
Joffe Law, P.A. has expert representatives and criminal attorneys available to help individuals with cases concerning vehicular homicide in the state of Florida. Our knowledgeable and seasoned legal team has decades of experience defending the legal rights of clients in cases at both state and federal levels. If you have questions about cases involving vehicular homicide, contacting our offices may be a wise decision. Below, we will take a look at how vehicular homicide is defined, prosecuted, and penalized in the state of Florida.
Defining vehicular homicide
Classified Florida Statute 782.071, vehicular homicide is a serious crime that may be prosecuted aggressively by state or federal officials. Vehicular homicide is a crime committed when an individual causes the death of an individual while operating a vehicle recklessly or in a manner that is liable to cause great physical harm. There is a difference between the crime of vehicular homicide and crimes of manslaughter. Crimes of vehicular homicide require evidence of reckless behavior while manslaughter usually involves failure to maintain ordinary care.
Essentially, when allegations of vehicular homicide surface, the difference will come down to whether or not the individual knowingly drove a vehicle in a way that was likely or could possibly cause great harm or death to others.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Examples of vehicular homicide
If an individual was driving recklessly in full knowledge that they were driving in an extremely dangerous manner, and then they hit and killed a pedestrian who was crossing the street at an intersection, they would likely be charged and convicted of committing vehicular homicide. Driving under the influence of controlled substances will not excuse an individual of vehicular homicide crimes. Driving in an emotional state or speeding in an excess of 15 miles above the speed limit can contribute to vehicular homicide convictions. Any clearly negligent action that causes the death of another individual by means of a vehicle can be considered vehicular homicide. A significant portion of vehicular homicide charges and convictions in Florida come as a result of drunk driving (DUI).
Alternatively, if an individual causes the death of the passengers in their vehicle while intentionally driving under the influence of controlled substances or by driving recklessly for some other reason, they may be convicted of vehicular homicide. An example of this would be an individual driving drunk with blood alcohol levels .08 percent or above in the state of Florida with passengers in their vehicle who then caused an accident on the highway that resulted in the death of at least one of the passengers. If more than one passenger died, or if one of the passengers was with child at the time, the individual may be charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide.
Vehicular homicide without providing information or rendering aid
If an individual commits vehicular homicide and then fails to provide their legal information or render assistance at the scene of the crime may be committing a second and more serious offense. This is usually the case in “hit and run” accidents. Individuals who fail to provide care at the scene, flee the scene of a crime, or fail to provide their information, may be charged with Vehicular Homicide without Providing Information or Rendering Aid. In Florida, this crime carries separate and more severe penalties. Vehicular Homicide without Providing Information or Rendering Aid is a First Degree Felony First offense and is punishable by thirty years in prison and thirty years of probation with a $10,000 fine. Level 7 offense severity rankings are given to Vehicular Homicide without Providing Information or Rendering Aid under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
Federal vehicular homicide
If a vehicular homicide case in Fort Lauderdale involves crossing state lines, federal official, or occurs on federal property, it may be prosecuted at both state and federal levels and treated as a federal offense. When this happens, penalties may be doubly as severe and court proceedings can get even more complicated. Federal crimes are subject to double jeopardy, meaning that each convicted count of a crime may carry twice as many penalties. If you believe that you may be implicated in a case of vehicular homicide that is liable for prosecution by federal officials, it is very important to retain legal representation from an experienced federal defense attorney immediately.
While this crime is very severe, it is important to know that there are defenses. One of the key factors to keep in mind is that homicide is not murder. Murder crimes are committed with intent and purpose while homicides are usually due to negligence or recklessness. One defense to vehicular homicide is simple speeding. Speeding without the influence of a controlled substance is not sufficient enough evidence that vehicular homicide charges will stick. Only a qualified vehicular homicide defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale will be able to help you decide what your best defense or mitigation strategy will be.
Criminal defense attorneys by your side
At Joffe Law, P.A., we understand that your case; we are here to listen to your side of the story. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration in a vehicular homicide case; having an understanding lawyer review the circumstances surrounding your situation may help you figure out how to handle the many complexities that could arise. If you are in Florida and have been charged with, or believe that you may be accused of, vehicular homicide, Joffe Law, P.A., can help you. Our team defense attorneys is available to review your case carefully and help you decide what your next move ought to be. Remember, cases of vehicular homicide should not be taken lightly. If you have been charged, the sooner you retain qualified legal counsel, the better the outcome of your case will likely be.