Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, you assume the potential risk of a collision. You may not think about it, but there is always danger when operating a multiple-ton vehicle. Taking that risk for granted can cause people to make questionable decisions while at the wheel. Of course, you are not the only one that the vehicle you drive endangers.
Anyone with whom you cross paths, from other drivers to pedestrians and cyclists, can also wind up injured or even dead as a result of poor decisions at the wheel. If you drove in a dangerous manner and caused a crash that resulted in the death of another person, it is possible that the State of Florida will charge you with vehicular homicide.
What is the definition of vehicular homicide in Florida?
Every state has its own definition for crimes and legal terms. Florida has a relatively broad definition for vehicular homicide. Specifically, while most states will charge someone with vehicular homicide if another person dies because of how someone else uses a motor vehicle, Florida also includes unborn children in the definition of vehicular homicide.
Even if everyone walks away from the accident seemingly unhurt, if a pregnant mother involved in a crash loses her child, Florida will consider vehicular homicide charges. It is also important to understand that the damages people suffer in a car accident may not fully manifest immediately. Someone could appear okay while leaving the scene of the accident, only to later die as a result of abdominal injuries or internal bleeding.
Not every fatal crash will result in vehicular homicide charges. The law requires that the driver who causes the crash must have been driving in a reckless manner they knew could endanger others. Traveling at incredibly high speeds, driving while drunk or going the wrong way on a one-direction road could all provide grounds for a vehicular homicide charge after a deadly crash.
What penalties does vehicular homicide carry?
Anyone who pleads guilty or gets convicted of vehicular homicide will face either second- or first-degree felony charges. Second degree felonies can result in up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation and a fine of up to $10,000. First-degree felony charges can mean 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation and a $10,000 fine.
Thankfully, anyone charged with vehicular homicide or similarly serious offenses has the right to a criminal defense. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may be many defense options available. Reviewing the evidence gathered by law enforcement about the deadly accident can help you determine the best strategy to develop in your particular case.