The felony criminal offense of DUI Manslaughter has been “on the books” in Florida for over 90 years. Florida’s DUI Manslaughter Statute imposes what is known in the law as “strict liability.” In other words, the prosecutor is not required to prove “mens rea” or criminal intent.
An argument can be made that imposing harsh criminal sanctions in the absence of criminal intent seems inappropriate. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph Boyd characterized the disparate penalties associated with DUI, DUI Manslaughter and vehicular homicide – all involving “substantially the same conduct” as “irrational, arbitrary and excessive.” However, Boyd’s opinion was not shared by a majority of the court.
Serious Penalties Are Characterized as a Deterrent
The commission of this offense constitutes a second degree felony with a corresponding potential state prison sentence of up to fifteen years. The Florida Criminal Punishment Code (Florida Statute Section 921.0022) ranks DUI Manslaughter as a level 8 severity offense. As a result, the legislature calls for a rather hefty sentence.
The highly emotional nature of this criminal charge can also provoke members of the victim’s family and MADD to present testimony in aggravation. Lastly, a DUI Manslaughter resulting in a period of incarceration of at least one year is classified as an “Aggravated Felony” (AF) which can carry immigration consequences.
The Florida Supreme Court has accepted the notion that the operation of a motor vehicle while the driver is impaired represents a reckless (and therefore culpable) act. In turn, the Florida DUI Manslaughter Statute has withstood constitutional attacks because the court has gone on to find that the legislature could reasonably conclude that such serious sanctions operate as a deterrent to highly dangerous conduct. See: State of Florida vs. Frederick Van Hubbard
High Stakes Criminal Offenses Require Lawyers You Can Trust
Being arrested for a DUI can be a stressful experience. From a statistical stand point:
- One out of every 250 Pinellas county residents are arrested each year for DUI.
- On average, approximately 11,000 people die each year in the United States in a DUI related accident.
When a death is involved in vehicle crash, our clients are often traumatized. We understand that finding yourself facing a prosecution for a DUI manslaughter charge can produce enormous anxiety. After all, it was never your intention to cause harm to anyone.
There are 3,376 practicing lawyers in Pinellas county. Given the high stakes, it is important that you take a systematic and thorough approach to finding experienced counsel that you trust. Having confidence in your attorney is the first step to properly addressing this important matter and something that can contribute toward a better peace of mind.
We are well qualified to help:
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Free Consultation with a DUI Manslaughter Attorney
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