DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida
With more than 80,000 residents, Fort Myers is a relatively large city in Florida that lies along the lower west coast of the state. Fort Myers is home to numerous colleges and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists each year. Between the permanent residents, college students, visitors, and tourists, a substantial number of drivers travel on Fort Myers streets and highways daily. Given the sheer number of drivers in Fort Myers, it should not be surprising that numerous people face driving under the influence (DUI) charges regularly.
Being convicted of driving under the influence in Fort Myers leads to many negative consequences, including, among others, possible jail time, probation, the installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, and the stigma of having a criminal conviction show up on a background search. However, facing more severe DUI charges, such as DUI manslaughter, is an entirely different battle accused individuals must face.
A DUI manslaughter conviction will haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. When facing a Fort Myers DUI manslaughter charge, accused individuals must ensure they are doing everything they can to find the best attorney for the job. Given that DUI manslaughter is a serious felony, only a truly skilled and reputable Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyer should be handling the case. By choosing the right attorney, accused persons are taking the necessary step of protecting their constitutional rights.
How the Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyer of Musca Law Can Help You
Facing a Fort Myers DUI manslaughter claim is a shock to the system, especially if the accused person has no criminal record. One mistake can change a person’s life forever. At Musca Law, our Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorneys see the big picture and know what’s on the line when someone is up against a tough prosecution. Musca Law employees trial lawyers who have decades of combined experience providing legal representation to accused persons throughout the state of Florida.
The Fort Myers DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have a good working relationship with area prosecutors and judges. Such a relationship allows our lawyers to seek resolution of serious criminal matters that have the potential to land someone in jail for many years. While no attorney can or should guarantee results, numerous individuals represented by Musca Law have reached favorable results when facing felony charges.
Favorable results in one case may mean dismissal of all charges, whereas, in another case, favorable results may mean pleading to a less-severe offense than what has been charged. For example, a person facing a third DUI charge in ten years (a third-degree felony under Florida law) may be able to lower the criminal charge to a misdemeanor DUI. In doing so, the accused person will face numerous consequences, such as potential jail time for a short period of time, the imposition of fines, probation, community service, the completion of a drug and alcohol program, the installation of an ignition interlock device, and the suspension of a Florida driver’s license. However, such consequences are much less serious than a felony, which can strip a person of some of his or her rights.
By choosing to work with Musca Law, you will have a team of advocates fighting for your rights in court and seeking to reach the best results possible for you given the facts of your case. To learn how the Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers of Musca Law can assist you, contact our office 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
Florida DUI Manslaughter Laws
All DUI charges in Florida are serious matters that lead to consequences that affect all aspects of a person’s life. But when the alleged DUI in question involves an accident that resulted in the death of another person, the stakes are significantly higher for the accused individual. If probable cause exists to believe a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and an accident or incident caused another person to suffer fatal injuries, the accused person will likely face DUI manslaughter charges. Manslaughter does not require the accused person to have the intent to kill another person, which is the key component of murder charges. However, because a person’s life is lost, Florida law is harsh when seeking to hold accused persons accountable.
Under Florida Law, Statute Section 316.193(3)(c)(3), prosecutors must establish the following to prove to a jury that an accused person should be found guilty of DUI manslaughter:
- The accused person was operating and/or in control of a vehicle at the time of the incident that resulted in the death of another person;
- The accused person’s alleged conduct of operating and/or controlling a vehicle while under the influence “resulted in the death of another person or unborn child who could have lived if born (known as a quick child)”;
- The accused person’s alleged consumption of drugs and/or alcohol impaired his or her normal faculties which led to the incident that resulted in the death of another person;
- If the accused person was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution must prove that the accused person’s blood-alcohol concentration was equal to or more than 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or by 0.08 grams of alcohol per every 210 liters of breath.
When proving that a defendant is guilty, Fort Myers prosecutors must meet the heightened burden of proving the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What this means is that the prosecution must establish that EVERY element of the crime of DUI manslaughter in Florida has been satisfied. For example, if a defendant’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) results from a breathalyzer test was 0.08 or higher, but the defendant’s conduct behind the wheel did not cause the death of another person, the prosecution has not proved its case. More specifically, if the defendant was involved in a multi-vehicle accident and it was the driver of another vehicle who struck a victim, it cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s conduct of operating and/or controlling a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol caused the death of another person.
The best way to ensure the prosecution cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, an accused person needs to have the best attorney possible handling the matter. A solid attorney will poke holes in the prosecution’s case to show a jury that the prosecution has not met its burden. Failure to meet ONE element of the crime of DUI manslaughter should result in an acquittal. Unfortunately, many accused persons are ultimately convicted despite questions of fact, and this often happens when a less-experienced attorney is handling the criminal matter. As such, the quality of an attorney is essential to the successful defense of a Fort Myers DUI manslaughter charge.
Criminal Consequences of a DUI Manslaughter Conviction in Fort Myers, Florida
Florida law is extremely harsh on individuals who are convicted of DUI manslaughter in the state of Florida. Additionally, even though Florida law is the same throughout the state, a Fort Myers prosecution and judge may treat DUI manslaughter charges much more seriously, and therefore, will seek much more serious consequences than the prosecution and judge may do in Miami, for example. Given that DUI manslaughter does involve the death of another person, at least some jail time will be the outcome of any conviction.
Per Florida law, DUI manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony. All felony convictions permanently limit the rights of individuals. Anyone convicted of a felony can no longer own a firearm and can no longer vote – two core rights and values Americans share. While laws are changing to give back convicted felons their rights after they serve time in prison, such changes are still new and uncertain. Regardless of the impact, a felony has on a person’s constitutional rights, the stigma of being a convicted individual who killed another person while driving drunk is life-long punishment.
The death of another person that may have been preventable is certainly a tragedy, and anyone who truly committed the crime of DUI manslaughter should expect to face some criminal consequences. However, despite the seriousness of the crime, the intent to harm is absent, and a convicted individual should not have to suffer punishment for the rest of his or her life. If convicted of DUI manslaughter in Fort Myers, the convicted person faces a minimum of four (4) years in jail and a maximum of fifteen (15) years in jail. Moreover, a convicted individual faces a monetary fine not to exceed $10,000.
The “Other” Consequences of a DUI Manslaughter Conviction in Fort Myers
If jail time and thousands of dollars in fines were not enough, persons convicted of DUI manslaughter in Fort Myers have a very long road ahead after serving jail time. Upon release from jail, convicted individuals will be subject to long-term probation (which will be shaped by a court’s order), will face permanent revocation of their driver’s license (with some exceptions after five years), the requirement to complete a drug and alcohol treatment program along with any other courses intended to rehabilitate a convicted person and help him or her reintegrate into society. Depending on the unique facts of a DUI manslaughter case (such as whether the convicted person had a criminal history or not before the DUI manslaughter conviction, and if so, which crimes), a judge may require additional terms of probation that go beyond the standard terms established by Florida law.
In addition to court-ordered penalties after being released from jail, convicted individuals are branded felons for life and will undoubtedly suffer harm to their reputation. Obtaining a job may become difficult. Finding a good place to live will also be a challenge, not to mention applying to attend college. Whatever the goal may be in life, a felony conviction (especially one linked to the death of another person) will hinder a person’s ability to achieve that goal. While not impossible, achieving life goals will be a long process with speed bumps along the way. As such, working with a superior Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorney will help to increase the chances an accused person can successfully fight the criminal charges to avoid the harshest of consequences.
Fort Myers is home to many immigrants from across the world. Immigrants are especially at risk when facing DUI manslaughter convictions. If an immigrant is present in the United States illegally or is a visa-holder, this person is likely to face deportation. If the immigrant is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) or naturalized citizen, this person still may face deportation or stripping of lawful permanent residency or citizenship status. Such consequences can be devastating to those who have called Florida their home for most of their lives. Therefore, fighting to avoid the conviction of DUI manslaughter in Fort Myers is critical to achieving an outcome that does not have such catastrophic consequences.
The Hardship License – Driving After a DUI Manslaughter Conviction in Fort Myers
The permanent revocation of a Florida driver’s license is just one of the many penalties resulting from a DUI manslaughter conviction in Fort Myers. In most cases, anyone with a prior DUI manslaughter conviction should plan never to have the legal right to drive again. Having said that, some individuals may qualify to drive under Florida law with a “Hardship” license or “Hardship” status. What this means is that if a person meets a long list of requirements, he or she may be able to drive again in Florida legally. Such requirements include the following:
- At the time of applying for a Hardship license, the individual has not driven for at least five years since being released from jail;
- The individual has remained sober since release from jail;
- The individual has not been arrested or faced any criminal charges relating to alcohol or drugs since release from jail;
- The individual has not been driving on a revoked driver’s license;
- The individual has installed an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle, and the device has been installed for at least two years at the time of applying for a Hardship license; and
- The individual has completed Florida’s DUI education program, has been subjected to random drug and alcohol testing, and has agreed to be supervised by the DUI program.
Any violation of just one condition of a Florida Hardship driver’s license will result in revocation of the driver’s license, and such revocation may prevent a person from obtaining a Hardship license in the future.
How Musca Law Defends Clients Against Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Charges
At Musca Law, our Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers start working the instant a client hires the firm to handle a Fort Myers DUI manslaughter case. This initial work can be the most important step in the criminal process. The initial arrest and early stages of questioning raise constitutional issues that a highly experienced attorney will need to address. As such, an attorney from Musca Law will immediately provide advice and guidance to a new client, will immediately meet a new client (which likely will be at the jail), and will be present at the initial court appearance at which point the arrested individual is formally charged with DUI manslaughter.
The preservation of evidence is critical to any DUI manslaughter case. With this type of case, evidence may include, among others, the following:
- Photographs and/or videos of the accident scene;
- Witness statements;
- Arrest report;
- Breathalyzer and/or blood test results; and
- The deceased victim’s medical records.
When an alleged drunk driver is accused of killing another person, obtaining the victim’s medical records is one of the most important aspects of the case. Medical records may show whether the victim was under the influence of any alcohol or drugs at the time of an accident. For example, if an alleged drunk driver struck a pedestrian who walked out in front of the driver in the middle of a street (and not at a crosswalk) if medical records reveal the pedestrian was under the influence, such evidence may be used as a defense as the pedestrian (1) did not utilize a crosswalk, and (2) was impaired. No death should be minimized in any way, but when an accused person’s livelihood is on the line, the person should not be convicted if any evidence suggests the victim’s death may have had other causes or contributing factors.
Gathering evidence is crucial to any Fort Myers DUI manslaughter case. But, the identification of potential constitutional violations is equally important. An experienced Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyer can quickly determine whether any law enforcement officers violated the accused person’s constitutional rights. Examples of such violations include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Failure to read an accused person his or her Miranda rights upon arrest;
- Obtaining evidence without a warrant and using such evidence to support criminal charges;
- Eliciting a false confession when an accused person was impaired and not able to understand his or her rights fully; and
- Using statements obtained by an accused person before an attorney arrives to ensure all questioning is appropriate.
Too much is on the line to place rights in the hands of an inexperienced attorney. Anyone facing Fort Myers DUI manslaughter charges needs a superior attorney handling the matter to ensure a defendant has the best chance possible of fighting criminal charges.
Contact the Lee County DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter in Fort Myers, time is of the essence to speak with a qualified Fort Myers Defense Attorney. At Musca Law, our legal team is standing by 24/7 to provide you with the legal representation you need to fight serious criminal charges. To find out how Musca Law can help you, contact our Fort Myers DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers today by calling (888) 484-5057.