According to data gathered by the Miami Herald, prison terms for those convicted of a Florida DUI manslaughter vary widely from case to case and from county to county. From 2012 to 2016, the statewide average sentence for a Florida DUI manslaughter conviction was just under ten years, although Miami-Dade County had the lightest sentences overall, with an average of just over 6 years in prison. Heavier sentences came from Broward County, where those convicted of DUI manslaughter serve just under 10 years, and the heaviest sentences came from the Palm Beach area.
While these sentences for DUI manslaughter are “averages,” and an individual’s sentence will depend on the Sarasota DUI lawyer’s skill, the circumstances, prior criminal history of the defendant, media coverage and the desires of the victim’s loved ones, you can see that a sentence for Florida DUI manslaughter can be harsh, forever altering your life. Additionally, in 2007, Florida added a four-year minimum mandatory sentence for DUI manslaughter convictions.
It is extremely important that you contact a skilled Florida DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested for DUI manslaughter in the state of Florida. The Sarasota criminal defense lawyers at The Law Place have helped many people just like you—good people who made a serious mistake. We understand you are anxious and concerned about your future, and we want to help you minimize the consequences of your DUI manslaughter charges.
What is DUI Manslaughter in Florida?
Florida State Statutes, Chapter 316.193 deal with DUI, and specifically DUI Manslaughter. Causing the death of another person while you are driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance can result in charges of DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. The penalties associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction include the following:
- A mandatory four-year prison sentence, with a maximum of 15 years;
- As many as fifteen years of probation;
- Fines up to $10,000;
- The permanent loss of driving privileges;
- Community service;
- Mandatory completion of a DUI substance abuse course;
- Vehicle impoundment;
- Substance abuse treatment, and
- Completion of a psychosocial evaluation.
Elements of Florida DUI Manslaughter Which Must Be Proven
In order to convict you of DUI manslaughter, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) you were in actual physical control of the vehicle, (2) you were under the influence of alcohol or a chemical substance to the extent your “normal faculties” were impaired or had a blood alcohol level above .08%, and (3) you must have known (or you should have known) you were involved in a crash.
The Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter Under Florida Law
In the state of Florida, the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is crucial in understanding the nature of the crime and its subsequent legal repercussions. Both are offenses associated with the unlawful killing of another person, but the circumstances and intent behind each act differ significantly.
This offense, often termed as a “heat of passion” crime, is characterized by the intentional killing of another person without premeditation. The defining element of voluntary manslaughter is that the act is committed in the spur of the moment, typically as a response to a provocation that would cause a reasonable person to act impulsively. It implies that, if given time to cool down, the person might not have committed the act. While still a serious offense, voluntary manslaughter does not carry the same weight as murder since it lacks the element of malice aforethought.
In contrast, involuntary manslaughter pertains to unintentional deaths that occur due to one’s recklessness or criminal negligence. It is absent of any intent to cause harm or death. Common scenarios include accidental deaths resulting from DUIs, improper handling of firearms, or other acts of negligence. The key distinction here is the lack of intent to kill, though the person acted in a manner that endangered or could potentially endanger others.
While both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter involve the death of another individual, their legal definitions and implications differ based on intent and circumstances. Understanding these differences is vital, as they significantly influence the nature of charges, defenses available, and potential sentences in the state of Florida. If faced with such charges, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to ensure proper representation and understanding of the nuances involved.
Potential Defenses to Florida DUI Manslaughter Charges
Of course, your defense will depend on the circumstances surrounding your charges, however your attorney may use one of the following defenses on your behalf:
- Your BAC was not above the legal level, or the evidence that you were impaired at the time of the crash can not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt;
- You were not in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the crash;
- You were not properly given your Miranda warnings when arrested, and therefore any statements you made thereafter can not be used as evidence;
- The police officer failed to warn you of the penalties associated with declining a chemical test;
- The chemical test was improperly administered;
- The police officer’s observations and interpretations were not accurate;
- The results of your field sobriety exercises can be questioned;
- The results of your chemical test can be questioned because the test was performed during the “absorption phase”, and
- There was no causation—the State cannot prove your actions “caused” the death of another human being.
How a Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney From The Law Place Can Help
Facing manslaughter charges in Sarasota can be one of the most overwhelming and frightening experiences of one’s life. The potential consequences are severe, and the intricacies of the legal process can be daunting. It’s in moments like these that the guidance of criminal defense lawyers becomes invaluable.
A Sarasota criminal defense lawyer from The Law Place is equipped with extensive knowledge of Florida’s legal landscape, especially as it pertains to manslaughter charges. Our attorneys have successfully handled numerous cases, including those of Sarasota DUI manslaughter. We understand the weight of the situation and are committed to navigating the legal system vigorously on your behalf.
When you entrust your case to our skilled team, you are not just hiring an attorney; you are partnering with an advocate who will delve deep into the details of your case, challenging evidence, identifying inconsistencies, and ensuring that your rights are upheld at every stage. Our objective is to provide you with a tailored defense strategy that seeks to reduce or even dismiss the charges you face.
Moreover, with a Sarasota DUI manslaughter case, the stakes are even higher. Specific nuances and regulations tied to DUI offenses intersect with the severity of manslaughter charges. Our seasoned lawyers have a track record of successfully defending clients against such compounded charges by meticulously examining every aspect of the arrest, the collection of evidence, and the procedures followed.
If you or a loved one are grappling with manslaughter charges in Sarasota, don’t navigate these turbulent waters alone. With The Law Place on your side, you gain the benefit of years of experience, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to securing the best possible outcome for your case. Reach out today and let our guidance be the difference in your defense.
Sarasota manslaugther charges lawyer FAQ
What is the difference between involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder charges in Sarasota?
In Sarasota, as in the rest of Florida, involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder are distinct charges. An involuntary manslaughter charge typically arises when a death results from unintentional but reckless behavior, whereas first-degree murder charges involve premeditated intent to kill. The latter is seen as a more egregious offense and is penalized more severely.
How is culpable negligence related to manslaughter charges?
Culpable negligence is a key term in many manslaughter cases. It refers to a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior. If a person’s actions, marked by culpable negligence, lead to another person’s death, it can be grounds for manslaughter charges in Sarasota.
I was arrested by a law enforcement officer for manslaughter. What should I do next?
If a law enforcement officer arrests you for manslaughter in Sarasota, it’s crucial to exercise your right to remain silent and avoid providing any statements until you consult with an attorney. Secure legal representation as soon as possible to ensure your rights are upheld and to navigate the complexities of the legal process.
Are manslaughter charges considered violent crimes?
Yes, manslaughter charges are categorized under violent crimes. Even if the act was unintentional, the resultant death and circumstances surrounding it classify it as a violent crime, which can have significant repercussions if convicted.
What penalties can I expect if convicted of manslaughter in Sarasota?
The penalties for manslaughter can vary based on the specifics of the case. While involuntary manslaughter might not carry penalties as severe as first-degree murder charges, a conviction can still lead to substantial prison time. First-degree murder charges can lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty in Florida, depending on the circumstances.
If I’m facing criminal charges for manslaughter, can they be reduced?
Yes, criminal charges for manslaughter can potentially be reduced, especially with a strong defense strategy. Various factors, such as the evidence presented, the circumstances of the incident, and the guidance of your legal representation, can influence the outcome of your case.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
DUI manslaughter cases in the state of Florida are extremely complex, and serious. Your DUI attorney from The Law Place will ensure all possible defenses are explored on your behalf, and, when appropriate, expert witnesses will be used. The Law Place’s DUI attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of your accident, and, if there are mitigating factors in your case, these will be brought to the court’s and prosecutor’s attention.