If you are facing vehicular homicide charges, you are likely worried about the penalties that could follow a conviction. Florida law punishes this crime harshly, with hefty fines and up to three decades spent in prison. In order to avoid these harsh sentences, stopping a conviction is essential. From altered relationships to a destroyed career, there is no aspect left unaffected by a devastating vehicular homicide charge. With experience as both a prosecutor and a defender, Sarasota traffic attorney Erika Valcarcel is well-versed in court proceedings. Her team can anticipate the other side’s strategy and formulate an effective defense.
Call (941) 363-7900 now to see how we can get your charges reduced or dismissed, if possible.
Florida Vehicular Homicide Laws
According to Florida Statute 782.071, vehicular homicide, otherwise known as vehicular manslaughter, is known as the killing of a person or a mother’s fetus through the reckless driving of a vehicle. Further, the definition of reckless driving is often seen as operating a vehicle in willful or blatant disregard for the safety of others. Since reckless driving rarely includes the intention of killing someone, the prosecution is not required to prove intent to kill in these cases. The only elements that matter are:
- The driver operating a vehicle recklessly; and
- A person or a mother’s fetus being killed as a result
A vehicular homicide can be accompanied by aggravating factors or factors that make the crime more serious. The most common aggravating factor in vehicular homicides is, by far, failing to give police officers information or failing to give reasonable aid to the victim. These circumstances can double the maximum prison sentence upon conviction.
Criminal and Collateral Consequences
The state of Florida always files vehicular homicides as either a first or second-degree felony. The charge is only elevated to a first-degree felony when aggravating factors are present, such as those listed above. The criminal penalties for vehicular homicide include, but are not limited to:
- Vehicular Homicide (Second Degree Felony): Up to 15 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Vehicular Homicide (First Degree Felony): Up to 30 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000
In addition to strictly criminal penalties, being convicted of vehicular homicide has collateral effects that will haunt you forever. You may have difficulty finding a job after being released from prison. Most employers are not fond of hiring someone with a criminal record. You may also be stifled in your attempts to continue your education, as many colleges vet applicants before admitting them.
Defenses Against Vehicular Homicide
With the help of an experienced lawyer, there are a number of defenses that can be used to get your vehicular homicide charges thrown out in court. One of the most common strategies involves a violation of your civil rights. Perhaps you were not read your Miranda rights, or maybe you were abused by the officer during your arrest. Proving those procedures were not followed can lead to your charges being eliminated. Another effective defense is displaying that you were not driving recklessly and that the victim was at fault for the accident. This shift in blame can be instrumental in protecting your freedom.
Trust Sarasota Traffic Attorney Erika Valcarcel to Protect Your Freedom
A vehicular homicide charge can uproot your life. Your family may rely on you for financial support, and going to prison would likely mean the end of your career. Let an experienced Sarasota traffic attorney fight tirelessly to help you avoid time behind bars. Attorney Erika Valcarcel will listen to your side of the story in order to present your case in the best possible light. Call (941) 363-7900 now for a free consultation and to see how she can help keep your life intact.