If you are been involved in a fatal accident that resulted in the other driver’s death, contact a West Palm Beach vehicular homicide lawyer. You will need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can advocate for you, and vigorously defend you. Retain the services of a skilled legal advocate today, and know that you are in capable hands.
Defining Vehicular Homicide
Florida Statutes Section 782.071 defines vehicular homicide as “the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.”
This law holds reckless drivers criminally responsible for any deaths caused by their reckless behavior or driving while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Since Florida law considers bicycles as vehicles, a reckless cyclist could also be held criminally liable if their reckless driving results in someone else’s death.
It is important to note that vehicular homicide is not the same charge as murder. In vehicular homicide cases, prosecutors are not required to show any criminal intent of harm on the part of the accused, just that their behavior exhibited a reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others and that behavior caused the death of another human being.
Statistics About Motor Vehicle Fatalities
One of the scariest experiences a driver can face is getting into a serious accident. The risk of injury and death in car accidents is quite high. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 1,463 motor vehicle accident fatalities across Florida – in 2015 alone. Sadly, these numbers seem to increase every year.
While many traffic fatalities are the result of unavoidable accidents, some of these fatalities are the result of a driver’s recklessness. In such cases, the reckless driver could face a vehicular homicide charge. Those convicted of this felony offense face up to 15 years in prison and a revocation of their driver’s license. A West Palm Beach vehicular homicide attorney can work tirelessly to attempt to mitigate the severity of the penalties that an individual may face.
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide Convictions
There are two degrees of vehicular homicide: vehicular homicide in the second-degree, and vehicular homicide in the first-degree. Both are felony crimes. Someone convicted of this offense could face first or second-degree vehicular homicide penalties.
A second-degree vehicular homicide can result in up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, plus court costs. A first-degree vehicular homicide conviction can result in up to 30 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines, plus court costs
The difference between first and second-degree vehicular homicide is the based on the defendant’s behavior after the crash occurred. According to Section 782.071, if the defendant knew, or should have known, that an accident occurred and failed to stop, they could be charged with first-degree vehicular homicide.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove
Prosecutors do not have to prove the defendant intended to hurt anyone when they caused the deadly accident.
Rather, they must show that the defendant was operating their vehicle in a reckless manner. A criminal defense attorney can use the facts of the case to prove the defendant’s behavior did not rise to that level. Often the use of an accident investigator, crash reconstruction expert or even the cars black box which holds data including speed, times, vehicle performance and when the brakes were activated.
Additionally, a West Palm Beach vehicular homicide lawyer can ensure the accused’s constitutional rights are not violated during the legal process and that the best possible result is obtained.
Contacting a West Palm Beach Criminal Attorney
Clearly, vehicular homicide is a serious offense with serious penalties. Given the potential for years in prison, anyone charged with this offense should call a West Palm Beach vehicular homicide attorney right away.
If you are facing vehicular homicide charges in West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, call a West Palm Beach vehicular homicide lawyer. An experienced attorney is standing by to discuss your case and defense in more detail.