What are the vehicular homicide penalties in Florida?

In Florida, vehicular homicide is the criminal charge that results when a reckless driver accidentally kills another person. Under Florida Statute § 782.071, you can be charged with vehicular homicide for accidentally killing any other person while driving including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and even unborn children. Vehicular homicide penalties are severe and can include fines, community service hours, rehab programs, and jail time.

For help defending against vehicular homicide charges, call the defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel today: 727-828-3900.

What are the penalties for vehicular homicide? 

In the state of Florida, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony. If you are convicted of vehicular homicide, you could face one or both of the following:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A 15-year prison sentence

However, if the accident that led to your criminal conviction was a hit and run (i.e., when the driver flees the scene of an accident), the penalties will be higher.

Note: It does not matter if you honestly believed that the accident was minor and non-life-threatening. If you leave the scene of the accident without stopping, you have committed a hit and run and will face elevated penalties.

If your accident is deemed a hit and run by the court, your vehicular homicide charge will be increased to a first-degree felony. Under this criminal charge, you could face:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A 30-year prison sentence

For both second- and first-degree charges of vehicular homicide, your prison terms could be higher if you already have a criminal record with prior felonies.

On top of these penalties, the court may also choose to add additional punishments, including:

  • 120 hours of community service hours (usually at a hospital or trauma center for vehicle accident victims)
  • Mandated rehabilitation programs or classes for DUI (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol)

What is reckless driving?

The State of Florida realizes that accidents happen and people make mistakes. For this reason, to be guilty of vehicular homicide, a person must have killed someone while operating a motor vehicle “in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” So what exactly is reckless driving?

Per Florida Statute § 316.192, a person commits reckless driving when he or she operates a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard” for another person’s safety. Reckless driving might include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Fleeing the police
  • Driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Intentionally hitting another car

What are possible defenses to vehicular homicide defenses? 

Your possible defenses will depend entirely on your unique circumstances.

For example, if the State is charging you with vehicular homicide because you were driving while intoxicated when you accidentally killed someone, we can argue that law enforcement did not follow the proper procedure when obtaining your blood/urine sample or administering your breathalyzer test.

We can also argue that you were not driving recklessly at the time of the accident; to charge you with vehicular homicide, the prosecutors must prove that you were engaging in reckless driving. If we can prove that you simply made a mistake while operating your vehicle, we can get your penalties reduced.

We can also prove that the victim’s actions — not yours — were the proximate cause of death.

Vehicular homicide is a very serious offense. Do not fight the charges on your own.

Contact Goldman Wetzel to schedule a free consultation today: 727-828-3900.

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