When you get behind the wheel of your car, you never set out to harm others. Nonetheless, car accidents happen every day in Miami, and occasionally, they lead to serious bodily injury of another person or even death. If your driving results in a death, you could be charged with vehicular homicide.
According to Section 782.071 of the Florida State Statutes, you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you cause the death of another person while operating a vehicle without having vehicle liability insurance or a valid driver’s license. The offense is classified as a second-degree felony.
Often, law-abiding and well-meaning individuals find themselves charged with this offense after making a brief mistake while driving. Such mistakes include getting distracted by a mobile phone, rushing a loved one to the hospital, or even failing to notice other road users.
If you or someone you love gets charged with vehicular homicide, it’s best to speak to the vehicular homicide lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. They will help you navigate what’s to come and help defend your rights.
The Definition of Vehicular Homicide in Florida
The components of Florida’s State Statutes that deal with vehicular homicide outline that any person who operates a vehicle and causes or contributes to the death of another individual or unborn child commits vehicular manslaughter. For you to be convicted of a crime, the jury needs to be convinced that certain factors were true. In Florida, vehicular homicide with gross negligence has four critical elements:
- While operating a vehicle, you committed an infraction in a manner that endangered others.
- The act you committed was harmful to human life.
- The act was committed with gross negligence in the sense that you failed to take reasonable care to avert foreseeable harm to others.
- The act ultimately resulted in another person’s death.
Sometimes, gross negligence doesn’t need to be proved for you to be convicted of manslaughter. For instance, if you’re safely making a right turn onto a street but fail to see a cyclist crossing into the crosswalk ahead of you, and you hit and kill them, gross negligence isn’t involved in your situation.
Nonetheless, you’ll still be charged with vehicular homicide because you didn’t exercise your obligation to notice and yield to the cyclist. In this case, you’re likely to be charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide.
What are the Penalties for Vehicular Homicide?
Under Florida law, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony classified as a Level 7 offense by the state’s code of punishment. Thus, if you get convicted of this felony, you face a jail term of up to 15 years in state prison, 15 years probation, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
However, the penalties you receive may vary depending on your previous convictions, the victim’s classification, whether you’re a habitual offender, and the severity of the offense. Similarly, if you get convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony vehicular homicide, the Florida DMV can revoke your driver’s license.
Defending Yourself Against Vehicular Homicide Charges
When you get behind the wheel, the last thing you expect is to kill another person and get entangled in Florida’s criminal justice system. In vehicular homicide cases, complex legal concepts such as “probable, direct, and natural cause” and “gross negligence” are often nuanced. Understanding these terms and navigating the facts of your case can be challenging, hence the need to have a vehicular homicide lawyer by your side.
With a vehicular homicide charge hanging over your head, there’s always the possibility of additional charges, not to mention the potential impact of the case on your life. This makes hiring a vehicular homicide lawyer particularly essential. With a criminal defense attorney representing you, it will be easier to navigate each phase of your vehicular homicide charge.
The criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have defended vehicular homicide cases in Miami for over two decades. Right from the moment you contact us, we’ll guide you through the plea process while advising you to make a correct statement. While at it, our team of lawyers will be on the ground preparing to mount a strong defense that supports your plea.
Over the years, we’ve carved a niche for our ability to get the best possible outcome for our clients. As soon as you engage us to handle your case, we’ll work hard to negotiate towards getting the charges dismissed or reduced. In cases where a conviction is unavoidable, we’ll fight to reduce your penalties and fines.
Typically, vehicular homicide cases in Florida or elsewhere are characterized by lengthy and thorough forensic inspections of the vehicle. A court can order an inspection of your phone records to determine the cause of the accident. The information collected by the prosecution and its legal presentation could have a considerable impact on your case.
Our experienced vehicular homicide lawyers understand the laws of discovery, and therefore, will work hard to ensure that the data gathered doesn’t exceed legal parameters. Besides, they can identify inconsistencies and flaws of the data to help them win the case in your favor.
In vehicular homicide cases, expert and witness testimonies are often a powerful tool for determining culpability. Expert witnesses, in particular, are helpful to both the defense and prosecution. When handling your case, our criminal defense attorneys will work with expert attorneys to present a compelling defense to the judge or jury.
Preserve the Future With Meltzer & Bell, P.A
Facing a vehicle homicide case means that your future is also on the line. Therefore, you’ll want to hire the best criminal defense attorneys in the Greater Miami Area to represent you. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A, we are one of the most upstanding law firms in Miami.
We not only offer quality representation but also charge reasonable fees. Also, our courtroom experience in vehicular defense cases is incomparable. We’re available 24/7, so all you need to do is request a phone consultation or schedule a confidential in-person meeting with a vehicular homicide lawyer at our offices in Miami.