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Vehicular Homicide

Tampa Vehicular Homicide Attorney

One of the most serious charges under Florida law is for vehicular homicide after the driver is accused of causing the death of another person while driving a vehicle in a negligent manner likely to cause death or serious injury. Contact an experienced Tampa DUI Lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your criminal charge for Vehicular Homicide in Florida, including Tampa and Hillsborough County.

In many cases, the distinction between a simple traffic infraction and the criminal offense of vehicular homicide is difficult to determine. The criminal charge of vehicular homicide was created by the Florida legislature to cover the gap between manslaughter under Florida Statute Section 782.07 and the criminal offense of reckless driving. McCreary v. Florida, 371 So.2d 1024 (Florida 1979).

Florida Statute Section 782.071 provides that vehicular homicide is the killing of another person by the operation of a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause great bodily injury or death to another individual. The criminal offense of vehicular homicide requires proving the elements of the lesser included offense of reckless driving. Chikitus v. Shands, 373 So.2d 904 (Florida 1979).

However, not every car accident in which someone is killed should result in a criminal prosecution or conviction for Vehicular Manslaughter in Florida. Before such a conviction can occur the prosecutor generally must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the driver is guilty of negligence as defined in the vehicular homicide statute under Florida law. Jackson v. Florida, 100 So.2d 839 (Florida 1st DCA 1958). If reckless conduct can not be proven as required under Florida law, then the defense should win a motion to dismiss prior to trial or a motion for directed judgment of acquittal at trial for the offense of vehicular homicide.


Proximate Cause in a Vehicular Homicide Case Under Florida Law

Did the actions of the Defendant really cause the death? In many vehicular homicide cases, the issue of proximate cause is the focus of the trial. The prosecutor must provide, beyond all reasonable doubt that the operation of the vehicle in a negligent manner was likely to cause the specific harm that occurred, the great bodily injury or death of another person. In a prosecution for vehicular homicide under Florida law, the jury should often be instructed that reckless driving is a lesser included offense when the cause of death is disputed.


Punishment for Vehicular Homicide Under Florida Law

Under Florida Law, vehicular homicide is a serious second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison and a $10,000 fine. If the driver is convicted of vehicular homicide under Florida law, then the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must impose a minimum three (3) year revocation of the driver's license after any period of incarceration is served.


Jury Instruction for Vehicular Homicide under Florida Law

The standard jury instruction under Florida law for vehicular homicide provide that prior to the defendant being found guilty of the offense, the jury must find that he operated the motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause the great bodily injury or death to another person. The prosecutor in Florida is not generally required to provide that the person arrested intended to harm or serious injury another individual. Williamson v. Florida, 510 So.2d 335 (Florida 4th DCA 1987).

Contact the DUI lawyers at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss any vehicular homicide case in Florida, including Tampa or Hillsborough County.