DUI Manslaughter Criminal Defense Lawyers in Cape Coral, Florida (FL)
Any motor vehicle wreck in which a person dies is tragic. No one, with rare exceptions, gets behind the wheel of a car and tries to kill someone in a car crash, even if the driver has imbibed in alcohol or drugs before starting to drive.
Despite the lack of an intent to kill another, an individual in Cape Coral could face a DUI Manslaughter charge if he or she consumed alcohol, drove, and caused a crash that killed another. The person accused of DUI Manslaughter in Cape Coral will face stiff penalties, including up to fifteen years in the state’s prison, probation, heavy fines, lifetime loss of driving privileges, vehicle impoundment, and community service, among other penalties.
Judges in Lee County do not take these allegations lightly. The investigating law enforcement officers and state’s attorneys also take DUI Manslaughter cases very seriously. Judges in Lee County are ready to impose a sentence greater than the minimum prison sentence required by law if a person is convicted of DUI Manslaughter. Additionally, state’s attorneys assigned to prosecute DUI Manslaughter charges will engage all of the resources necessary to make an air-tight case. Finally, law enforcement investigators will use all of their considerable resources to rip apart the life of the accused and find every minuscule detail to prove the accused guilty of DUI Manslaughter.
The person facing a DUI Manslaughter charge in Cape Coral might feel like everyone is against him or her. DUI Manslaughter charges are met with public scorn. The general public holds the opinion that if the police bring charges for DUI Manslaughter against another, then that person is automatically guilty. Fortunately, the case will not be tried in the court of public opinion.
A person accused of DUI Manslaughter in Cape Coral is presumed innocent. He or she is cloaked and shrouded by the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence remains with the person until the state’s attorney produces evidence to prove the person accused of DUI Manslaughter guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The Constitution of the State of Florida, along with the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, protect the rights of the accused to a fair trial conducted by an impartial judge and deliberated on by a jury of one’s peers.
The constitutional protections a person accused by the government of DUI Manslaughter enjoy maybe a little solace to someone's facings up to fifteen years in prison. It is no consolation to a person just found guilty that the process envisioned by the drafters of our constitutions worked.
If you are under investigation for DUI Manslaughter charges in Cape Coral or police have charged you with DUI Manslaughter in Cape Coral, you need to ask fast. Call (888) 484-5057 and speak with Musca Law’s Cape Coral DUI Manslaughter attorneys. They have the valuable experience, tenacity, and skill you need when your back is against the wall.
DUI Manslaughter Under Florida Law
Criminal law is premised upon the guilty mind. The guilty mind is evidenced by an intent to commit an act or the careless disregard for the safety of others. DUI Manslaughter, and the lesser-included offense of DUI, do not require the state’s attorney to prove the accused entered the car with an intent to kill another in a wreck while driving drunk. Instead, the state’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The person accused operated or had control over a vehicle at the time of the crash,
- Killed another person, or a child who was unborn yet could have lived if born, also called a “quick child,” through the operation of the vehicle,
- While the accused operated the vehicle with his or her normal faculties impaired by due to the consumption of alcohol, or,
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration was found to be 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or by 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 210 liters of breath.
The state’s attorney must prove each component, or “element” of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Failing to prove one element will result in an acquittal.
Prosecutors litigating DUI Manslaughter cases face tremendous pressure to convict the person charged. Consequently, prosecutors will fight tooth and nail for a conviction. They will push investigators to perform thorough investigations so that the defense has no opportunity to poke holes in the state’s case.
An attorney who lacks extensive experience defending DUI Manslaughter cases might be overwhelmed by the government’s evidence. Conversely, the DUI Manslaughter defense attorney with vast trial experience and success defending tough cases in which the evidence almost seems insurmountable can expose the weaknesses in any DUI Manslaughter case to give the accused the best opportunity to win an acquittal or to plea bargain the case down to a lesser offense and no, or little prison time.
DUI Manslaughter Law
Florida Statutes §316.193(3)(c)(3)(a) provides that any person found guilty of DUI Manslaughter is guilty of a second-degree felony and could serve up to fifteen years in the Florida penitentiary. The judge may levy a fine of up to $10,000.00. However, the sentencing judge has no discretion under Florida’s DUI Manslaughter law to reduce the incarceration portion of the offender’s sentence to less than four years committed.
A Cape Coral DUI Manslaughter attorney who has years of experience vigorously defending the accused knows that the judge must impose a committed sentence consistent with the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, as provided in Florida Statutes §921.0022. Consequently, any advice about potential sentencing provided by a Cape Coral DUI Manslaughter attorney must include an analysis of the Criminal Punishment Code.
Under the Criminal Punishment Code, a DUI Manslaughter conviction carries a 124 ½-month committed sentence as a Level 8 offense. The judge could issue a shorter prison term if the court determines that not following the guidelines is appropriate in the case.
Lee County DUI Conviction and Collateral Consequences
A conviction under Florida’s DUI statute triggers certain collateral consequences. The judge will order the offender to complete a probationary term designed to aid the offender in reintegrating into society and help maintain sobriety. The offender could return to prison for violating any term of probation.
The court will impose the standard terms of probation applicable in every case and special conditions of probation that are unique to the offender. The sentencing judge may impose community service, wear an electronic monitoring device, submit to random alcohol and drug screening, and enter and complete a substance abuse treatment program that could be inpatient or outpatient, depending on the needs of the individual.
Another collateral consequence of a DUI Manslaughter conviction applies only to a portion of the population. The federal authorities could seek the removal of a person who is not a citizen of the United States. The convicted offender, if not a citizen, could be denied naturalization rights as well.
Additional consequences of a DUI Manslaughter conviction relate to the access of motor vehicles. A sentencing judge may order the vehicles to which the offender has access to be impounded. Also, the judge could enter an order requiring the DUI Manslaughter offender to DUI educational training programs and install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles to which the offender has access once released from prison.
Hardship License After DUI Conviction
The state will revoke the license of an offender who was convicted of DUI Manslaughter permanently. However, the state will reinstate the driver’s license of a person convicted of DUI Manslaughter upon satisfying a number of conditions. Those conditions include:
- No driving for the five years before applying for reinstatement,
- Abstaining from alcohol or drugs,
- No arrests for drug crimes or for driving on a revoked license,
- Maintaining the ignition interlock device for at least two years before applying, and
- Complete the state’s DUI educational program, submit to random substance testing as required by the program, and agree to be supervised under the auspices of the DUI program for the entire hardship period.
A violation of any of these terms after the state grants a hardship license will cause the state to revoke the hardship license.
Evidence Preservation in Cape Coral DUI Manslaughter Cases
Defenses in criminal cases will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. When Musca Law’s DUI Manslaughter defense attorneys become involved in a case, they examine every aspect of every detail to expose and exploit weaknesses in the government’s evidence. When Musca Law’s DUI Manslaughter defense lawyers agree to take a case, they begin strategizing immediately. They will consult with you at any point during the case. However, they prefer to get involved in the case early so that they can protect you from the perils of talking with police, losing evidence, and missing valuable witnesses who could help build a strong defense.
Acquiring Musca Law’s DUI Manslaughter defense lawyers as soon as possible helps preserve physical evidence. The evidence left behind by a car crash does not remain on the road for long. Once the police have completed their on-scene investigation, clean up crews will come in and clear away debris. The police will take photos of the scene at the time of the crash, but a thorough defense lawyer needs to examine the scene closely and in-person as soon as possible after the crash. Doing so will help understand where the vehicles were when the collided, see yawl marks in the road, gouge marks, and skid marks left by the wreck.
Musca Law’s DUI Manslaughter defense lawyers understand that the police will employ an accident investigator to analyze the crash, and, predictably, focus on blaming the accused for the crash. By retaining a reputable defense crash expert to assist in trial preparation, Musca Law’s attorneys will better comprehend the significance of the findings made by the government’s expert and develop a strategy to minimize the expert’s findings or to controvert them entirely. Failing to hire an expert to analyze the government’s expert opinion thoroughly could lead to a completely one-sided presentation of the evidence by the prosecution and leave the jury with only one conclusion to draw.
Defending DUI Manslaughter cases in Cape Coral requires more from an attorney sworn to protect the rights of the accused. Musca Law’s DUI Manslaughter attorneys will be ready to defend you at every juncture including accompanying our client to police interviews and properly advising our client about the rights against self-incrimination, collect all relevant medical records, taking pictures of the cars and scene, interviewing witnesses including trying to locate witnesses who did not speak with police, and trying to locate and preserve security videos not captured by police.
Evidence obtained from smartphones is also very important. The data derived from the analysis of a smartphone is highly complex. Understanding the data obtained and then accurately interpreting the data is not easy. Therefore, additional expert testimony could be required to
Trial Strategies for DUI Manslaughter Cases in Cape Coral
DUI Manslaughter cases tend to plod through the court system. This can be frustrating, especially when the accused is held on high bond and cannot post it immediately. Musca Law’s defense attorneys understand and appreciate that frustration. However, rushing a case to trial before the defense is ready could be counterproductive. Instead, taking a measured and thorough approach to defending a case is the right strategy in most cases.
Each stage of our client’s case is an opportunity to advocate for them. One of the critical stages of a DUI Manslaughter case is the pre-trial motion stage. Pre-trial motions may be divided into three categories: Motions for Discovery of the State’s Evidence, Motions to Dismiss and Suppress, and Motions In Limine.
In the discovery phase of a case, we will file motions to compel the state to produce all of the evidence to which it has access, especially exculpatory evidence. The prosecutor has a constant duty to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense upon learning of that evidence. The state’s attorney might not agree to turn over certain evidence. In that case, we will argue aggressively for a court order directing the state’s attorney to produce the requested evidence. The government must also turn over all evidence it intends to introduce at trial as well.
After the discovery phase of the case is complete, then the defense will file Motions to Dismiss and Motions to Suppress if relevant to the case. Motions to Dismiss could be successful in certain cases to knock out some or all of the charges pending against the accused. On the other hand, Motions to Suppress are a highly effective tool for challenging the government’s proffered evidence.
Motions to Suppress evidence obtained by the police test the constitutional validity of the government’s actions. For example, moving to suppress blood samples taken without a warrant could be successful in some cases, and if so, the judge must throw out all evidence of the blood sample taken from the accused and all evidence naturally flowing from the illegally obtained evidence.
A Motion to Suppress any statement given by the accused while in police custody in violation of the Miranda warnings could be another effective tool for excluding damning evidence from trial.
Motions In Limine are motions heard by the trial judge that shape the evidence the jury will hear. Motions In Limine help flag evidentiary issues for the trial judge and assist the judge in removing inflammatory, irrelevant, or overly prejudicial evidence from trial. Motions In Limine could also ask the judge to prevent the state from admitting expert testimony that does not meet Florida’s evidentiary standards.
The strategy employed by the defense to win the case will depend on the potential evidence the state’s attorney wishes to admit at trial. Some defense strategies will focus on nullifying the significance of expert testimony by showing a bias held by the expert or that the expert’s conclusions were wrong. For example, a successful defense could demonstrate that the officers failed to perform the field sobriety tests correctly, the officers administered the breath test wrong, or that any machines used during the investigation provided inaccurate results.
Another commonly-used defense strategy is the “wheel defense.” The state’s attorney bears the burden to prove that the accused operated or had control over a vehicle involved in a crash. However, if there are no witnesses on the scene to put the accused behind the wheel of the car, then the state would have failed to prove an essential element of the case.
Another defense involves showing that the accused did not cause the crash. This defense is delicate because victim-blaming usually backfires. However, successfully demonstrating that the victim was on a cell phone, speeding, made a wrong turn or committed a traffic offense that caused the deadly collision, then the accused could be acquitted of the DUI Manslaughter count. The jury could convict the accused of the lesser-included offense of DUI if the evidence is sufficient.
Finally, the reasonable doubt defense is always a viable option. The reasonable doubt defense views the case as a whole and persuades the jury that the government failed to satisfy its burden to prove the accused guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend Your Rights
Musca Law’s Cape Coral defense lawyers are available 24/7 to take your call. Our firm offers free consultations in private settings so we could discuss your case openly and honestly while preserving the attorney-client privilege. Call us today at (888) 484-5057 to protect your liberty.