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Vehicular Homicide

South Florida Vehicular Homicide Lawyers

In Florida, almost any fatal accident that involves a vehicle and a driving violation can result in charges of vehicular homicide under Fla. Stat. § 782.071. You could be convicted of a felony due to something that was completely an accident, even if you did not consume any alcohol or drugs at all. These accusations always should be taken seriously. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you on these charges as soon after the accident as possible is critical. 

West Palm Beach Vehicular Homicide Lawyer

Florida vehicular homicide convictions come with severe penalties, and a successful defense against any vehicular homicide charge takes someone with in-depth knowledge of the many aspects of a vehicular homicide case. If you have been arrested for vehicular homicide in South Florida, contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Our attorneys aggressively defend clients in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County.

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys for licensed professionals are committed to getting the best results for our clients, and we work tirelessly to get criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. You can have our firm review your case and explain all of your legal options when you call (561) 557-8686 right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.

Overview of Vehicular Homicide Charges in Florida

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Vehicular Homicide in Florida

According to Fla. Stat. § 782.071, vehicular homicide, or vehicular manslaughter, is 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 person.

By “reckless manner,” the law means driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for safety, the same standard as in a reckless driving charge. This means that in any situation where you could be convicted of reckless driving and someone died in an accident, you will likely be charged with vehicular homicide. You also can be charged if the accident injures a pregnant woman, resulting in a miscarriage.

Some examples of situations that have resulted in a conviction of vehicular homicide are:

  • Striking a bicyclist after weaving in and out of traffic and then running a red light;
  • Attempting to pass in a no-passing zone of a two-lane road in the rain in a hilly area;
  • Striking a young child without slowing down, even after the accident, in an area with many warning signs and no obstructions of the driver's view; and
  • Running into a vehicle stopped at a red light with a blood-alcohol level just under the legal limit.

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Prosecuting the Offense

A vehicular homicide charge is different from a DUI manslaughter charge. In the instance of vehicular homicide, the prosecution does not have to prove there was any intoxication or impairment. It is therefore entirely possible to be charged with vehicular homicide under Florida law if you are involved in a fatal accident while violating traffic laws, even if you have not had any alcohol or drugs at all. 

However, if you were drinking alcohol or if prescription or illegal drugs were found in your system, the prosecution can use this information in court to help their argument. When combined with other elements, the impairment evidence may be enough to convict you of vehicular homicide.

Additionally, to prosecute a vehicular homicide charge, the state does not need to prove the driver had the intent to harm anyone with his or her actions. Instead, the state only needs to prove that the operation of the vehicle was done so in a manner likely to cause the death or great bodily injury of another.

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Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Florida

Normally, under Fla. Stat. § 782.071, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony. A conviction can result in 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. However, the charges can be upgraded to a first-degree felony for several different reasons.

If the driver knew or should have known, that an accident happened and did not give information and render aid as required under Florida law, the charge increases to a first-degree felony. If convicted, this could mean 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

In addition to any other punishment, the court also may order the person to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital that regularly receives victims of vehicle accidents, according to Florida law. This community service work must be performed under the supervision of a registered nurse, an emergency room physician or an emergency medical technician pursuant to a voluntary community service program operated by the trauma center or hospital.

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Meltzer & Bell, P.A. | A Vehicular Homicide Attorney in Palm Beach County

If you have been charged with vehicular homicide, you should contact experienced legal representation immediately. A conviction for this offense can change the course of your life, and you could spend a significant amount of time in prison. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to begin building a strong defense against the charges.

Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients in communities such as Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Royal Palm Beach, Greenacres, Delray Beach, Wellington, Riviera Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens. Call (561) 557-8686 today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation that will let our Palm Beach County vehicular homicide defense attorneys review your case.

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