For someone unfortunate enough to hit and kill another human being, that accident is likely the worst moment of his or her life. What he or she may not realize is that the trauma will only continue once the state or a family member files a lawsuit against that person for causing the death of the victim. Because of the severity of the crime, it is absolutely vital that anyone involved hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to help protect his or her rights.The Crime
In Florida, vehicular homicide, often referred to as vehicular manslaughter, is the killing of a human being or unborn child (by injuring the mother) caused by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause great bodily harm or death to another person.
Note that so long as the state can show reckless driving, there is no need to show any intent to kill. Operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner means driving a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. Excessively speeding, racing, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are all examples of actions that may qualify as reckless driving under the Florida statute.Penalties
Vehicular homicide is generally classified as a second-degree felony in Florida, which means the driver could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The driver can also lose his or her driver’s license for three years.
If the driver knew or had reason to know that the accident occurred, but failed to render aid to the injured person and inform law enforcement, that driver could be convicted of a first-degree felony. This does not mean that the driver had to know that he killed the person during the accident, but just that the accident occurred when he left the scene of the crime. A first-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
In addition to these traditional penalties, the driver may face civil suit by the family of the deceased and may be ordered to serve 120 community service hours in a hospital or trauma center where vehicle accident victims are often brought after the injury.What to Do
Even though these penalties may seem like the end of the world, it is important to understand that there are defenses an attorney can present on your behalf for a vehicular homicide charge. Insufficient evidence or other mitigating factors may be available to help protect you against these severe punishments.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of another person, contact Mark S. Lowry, an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, to discuss the legal proceedings you will likely soon face. Mark S. Lowry understands the law, but also understands that anyone in this situation is suffering emotionally and needs specialized legal care. It is critical that you seek legal defense to protect you during this difficult time. Call us today to schedule a consultation.