DUI Manslaughter Lawyers in Gainesville, Florida (FL)
Motor vehicle accidents are without a doubt, extremely tragic. The majority of people do not get behind the wheel of an automobile with the intention of causing the death of another individual in an accident, even if the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol. Despite a lack of intention to cause a fatal accident, a driver in Gainesville could face DUI manslaughter charges (“DUI” means driving under the influence) if he or she consumed drugs or alcohol, operated a vehicle, and caused a deadly crash. In Gainesville, the person who is facing an accusation of DUI manslaughter will be subject to harsh penalties including imprisonment, monetary fines, the permanent loss of one’s driving privileges, the impoundment of one’s vehicle, probation, community service, and quite possibly, substance abuse treatment.
Judges in Gainesville take DUI manslaughter charges very seriously. Law enforcement and prosecutors also do not take these charges lightly. Specifically, judges often impose the harshest sentence, and prosecutors work aggressively to secure a DUI manslaughter conviction. In other words, prosecutors assigned to a DUI manslaughter case avail themselves of all resources available to seek a conviction for DUI manslaughter.
DUI manslaughter cases are associated with social stigma, where the general public believes that if law enforcement pursues DUI manslaughter charges against an individual, then he or she is automatically guilty. Most fortunately, a DUI manslaughter case is not tried in the court of public opinion.
An individual who has been charged with DUI manslaughter is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This presumption of innocence remains with the suspect until the prosecution brings forth evidence to demonstrate that he or she is guilty of DUI manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, as well as the Constitution of the State of Florida, protect a suspect’s rights, ensuring that he or she receives a fair trial conducted by an impartial judge and a jury of one’s peers.
If you are under investigation for DUI Manslaughter charges in Gainesville, or police have charged you with DUI Manslaughter in Gainesville, you need to ask as fast as possible. Call (888) 484-5057 to speak with Musca Law’s Gainesville DUI Manslaughter attorneys. The Gainesville DUI manslaughter attorneys at Musca Law have the valuable experience, tenacity, and skill you need to fight against your DUI manslaughter charges. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
DUI Manslaughter Pursuant to Florida Law
Under Florida law, the prosecution must establish 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.
In order to secure a conviction for DUI manslaughter, a prosecutor must prove each element of a DUI manslaughter charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The failure to establish even one element will result in a dismissal of the case.
Gainesville prosecutors who litigate DUI manslaughter cases face extreme pressure to seek a conviction. In so doing, they will urge investigators to conduct a comprehensive investigation in an attempt to leave the defense with little to no ability to challenge the state’s case.
An inexperienced attorney may feel overwhelmed by the evidence proffered by the prosecution in a DUI manslaughter case. Conversely, a lawyer with significant experience litigating DUI manslaughter cases knows how to challenge the prosecution’s case and provide the accused with the best chances of securing an acquittal or obtaining a plea bargain to reduce the charges to a lesser offense, which may mean little to no jail time.
DUI Manslaughter Laws in Florida (FL)
Pursuant to Florida Statutes §316.193(3)(c)(3)(a), it provides that if a person is suspected of committing DUI manslaughter, he or she will be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries with it a maximum jail term of fifteen years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000, among other things. Probation, community service, and mental health counseling may also be ordered by the judge.
Keep in mind that the sentencing judge has no discretion under Florida’s DUI manslaughter law to reduce the incarceration part of the offender’s sentence to less than four years committed. Moreover, a seasoned Gainesville DUI manslaughter attorney knows that the sentencing judge must impose a sentence pursuant to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, as provided in Florida Statutes §921.0022. As such, any advice that a Gainesville DUI defense attorney offers to his or her client must include an analysis of the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. Under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, a conviction or DUI manslaughter is associated with a 124.5-month sentence as a Level 8 offense. The judge could issue a shorter jail term if the court renders the decision that not adhering to the Criminal Punishment Code guidelines is inappropriate in the case.
Gainesville DUI Conviction and Collateral Consequences
A conviction under Florida’s DUI statute is associated with certain collateral consequences. As noted above, the judge will order the offender to probation for up to 15 years. If the offender violates the terms of his or her probation, he or she could be sent back to prison. The court will impose the standard terms of probation that are applicable to every DUI manslaughter case as well as those that are specifically tailored to the offender’s case. The judge may also require an offender to wear an electronic monitoring device, complete a certain number of hours of community service, undergo substance abuse counseling that is paid by the offender, and submit to drug and alcohol screening.
If a person is not a citizen of the United States, he or she could be deported if convicted of DUI manslaughter.
Another collateral consequence of a DUI conviction is that the subject vehicle may be impounded by the judge for a certain period of time. Additionally, the offender may be ordered to attend a DUI educational training program and be required to have his or her vehicle installed with an ignition interlock device.
Hardship License After DUI Conviction
In addition to the above consequences, the state will revoke the offender’s driver’s license should he or she be convicted of DUI manslaughter. However, the state may reinstate the offender’s driver’s license upon a showing of hardship, and subject to the following conditions:
- The offender has not driven for five years before applying for reinstatement;
- The offender has not consumed drugs or alcohol;
- There have been no subsequent arrests for drug-related offenses or driving on a license that is revoked;
- The offender’s vehicle has had an ignition interlock device installed therein for at least two years prior to submitting an application for reinstatement; and
- The offender has completed the state’s DUI educational program, has submitted to random alcohol or drug testing, and has agreed to be supervised by 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 Gainesville DUI Manslaughter Cases
Defenses that may be available to an accused are contingent upon the facts and circumstances of one’s case. When a Gainesville DUI manslaughter defense lawyer is retaining in a DUI manslaughter case, they examine with precision every detail of the matter in order to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. When the attorneys at Musca Law decide on pursuing a DUI manslaughter case, they immediately begin to develop the most effective defense strategy possible. However, they urge an accused to seek out their services as early as possible given that there are perils associated with talking to police, losing evidence, and missing valuable eyewitnesses who can help the defense poke holes in the prosecutor’s case.
Our lawyers seek to preserve the physical evidence at the accident scene, which must be done right away to avoid it being lost. Specifically, the evidence left behind by an accident does not remain on the road for a long period of time, as clean-up crews begin to clear the scene once law enforcement has completed their investigation.
The police will photograph the scene however, a thorough defense attorney will be required to examine the scene closely and in person as soon as possible after the crash. Doing so will help the defense to understand where the vehicles were located when the crash occurred, and observe yaw marks as well as gouge marks and skid marks left behind by the accident.
Musca Law’s team of seasoned Gainesville DUI manslaughter defense lawyers are aware that law enforcement will seek to hire an accident investigator to examine the crash, and focus their blame on the accused for causing the accident. This is why it is critical for the defense to hire a defense crash expert to assist them in preparing for trial. By retaining a defense crash expert, the lawyers at Musca Law will be able to better understand the significance of the findings rendered by the government’s expert and put together a strategy to challenge or minimize their conclusions. Failing to hire an expert to comprehensively examine the government’s expert opinion could result in a one-sided presentation of the evidence and leave the jury with only one conclusion to consider.
Musca Law’s attorneys, in defending those accused of DUI manslaughter in Gainesville, work tirelessly to safeguard the rights of their clients. In fact, they are ready to defend their clients to the fullest extent of the law at each stage of their case. Our attorneys accompany their clients during police interviews and advise them about their rights against self-incrimination, collect all relevant medical records, take pictures of the cars and scene, interview witnesses including trying to locate witnesses who did not speak with police, and attempt to locate and preserve security videos not captured by police.
Trial Strategies for DUI Manslaughter Cases in Alachua County, Florida
DUI manslaughter cases tend to take a significant period of time, which can be frustrating, especially where the accused is held on a high bond and cannot immediately post it. Musca Law’s DUI manslaughter defense attorneys understand the frustration. However, they do not rush cases to trial, which can be counterproductive and lead to an unnecessary conviction. In the alternative, they carefully and thoroughly analyze each case and all details associated therewith to come up with the most aggressive defense strategy possible.
Each facet of our clients’ cases provides our lawyers with the ability to advocate for them. One of the most significant stages of a DUI manslaughter case is the pre-trial motion stage, which may be split into three categories: motions for discovery of the state’s evidence, motions to dismiss and suppress, and motions in limine.
During the discovery stage of a DUI manslaughter case, our attorneys file motions to compel the state to provide all of the evidence in their possession, including exculpatory evidence. Upon learning of such evidence, the prosecution must provide it to the defense. If the prosecutor refuses to do so, the defense team at Musca Law will seek to have the court force him or her to produce it. The prosecution must also produce all evidence of which it intends to use at trial.
Once the discovery phase has been completed, the defense will file motions to dismiss and motions to suppress, if applicable. A motion to dismiss can be successful in having some or all of the charges dismissed. A motion to suppress, however, can also be a highly effective tool for challenging the prosecution’s evidence. This type of motion is helpful in preventing evidence ftom being admitted and shown to jury due to being obtained in violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights against an improper search and seizure. Also, statements made to police by a suspect in violation of a person’s Miranda rights could be subject to a motion to suppress in order to exclude damning evidence from trial.
A motion in limine is a motion that is heard by the judge, which has the effect of shaping the evidence that the jury will hear. Specifically, the purpose of this motion is to remove prejudicial, inflammatory, or irrelevant evidence from trial. Motions in limine could also request that the judge prevent the admission of testimony that does not comport with Florida’s evidentiary standards.
Keep in mind that some defense strategies focus on nullifying the conclusions of the prosecutor’s expert due to a showing of bias. Other strategies of defense focus on demonstrating that law enforcement did not properly administer a breath test or field sobriety test. Or, that the machines use to determine one’s breath alcohol concentration were not calibrated property, of which is necessary to render accurate results.
Another common defense strategy employed by a DUI manslaughter defense lawyer is known as the “wheel defense.” The prosecution has the burden of establishing that the suspect had control over or operated a vehicle the subject vehicle. However, if no one witnessed the accused behind the wheel of the subject vehicle, then the prosecution will not prevail in proving an essential element of their case.
While somewhat of a sensitive subject, the defense can also place blame on the victim to establish that he or she caused his or her own death. Specifically, the defense can attempt to show that the victim was engaged in distracted driving, speeding, or committing a traffic infraction that led to his or her own demise. In this case, the accused could be acquitted of the DUI manslaughter charge, however, the jury could convict the accused of the lesser-included offense of DUI should the evidence be sufficient.
Lastly, another defense strategy is the reasonable doubt defense. This examines the case as a whole and seeks to persuade the jury that the prosecution did not satisfy its burden of proving that the accused is guilty of the offense of DUI manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend Your Rights
Musca Law’s Gainesville criminal 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 legal rights, liberty, and freedom. We look forward to making a difference for you.