DUI Manslaughter Lawyers in Port Charlotte, Florida (FL)
Motor vehicle accidents are tragic, and unfortunately, a part of life. However, most people who get behind the wheel do not have the manifest intention of causing another person to die, even when they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. Notwithstanding, a driver in Port Charlotte could be charged with DUI manslaughter (DUI means driving under the influence) if he or she consumed alcohol or drugs, drove a vehicle, and caused a fatal accident. In Port Charlotte, a person who is accused of DUI manslaughter may be subject to harsh consequences, including jail time, the revocation of his or her driver’s license on a permanent basis (there are exceptions, which are discussed below), steep monetary fines, vehicle impoundment, community service, probation, and substance abuse treatment, to name a few.
In Port Charlotte, judges take DUI manslaughter charges very seriously, where they often seek the harshest penalties available by law. The prosecution also does not take these charges lightly, where they work zealously to secure a DUI manslaughter conviction. Otherwise stated, prosecutors that are assigned a DUI manslaughter case most often avail themselves of all resources available to secure a conviction.
Social stigma often occurs when a person is convicted of DUI manslaughter, where the general public holds the common belief that when law enforcement charges a person with this crime, then the suspect is automatically guilty. Fortunately, a DUI manslaughter case is not tried in the court of public opinion. Specifically, a person facing DUI manslaughter charges is deemed innocent until proven guilty. This presumption of innocence remains with the accused until a prosecutor submits evidence to the court to establish that he or she is guilty of DUI manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are being investigated for DUI Manslaughter charges in Port Charlotte, or police have charged you with DUI Manslaughter in Port Charlotte, you need to ask as fast as possible. Call (888) 484-5057 to speak with Musca Law’s Port Charlotte DUI Manslaughter attorneys. The Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter attorneys at Musca Law have the valuable experience, tenacity, and skill you need to fight against your DUI manslaughter charges. Contact Musca Law today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
DUI Manslaughter Pursuant to Florida Law
In Florida, the applicable law dictates that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- 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;
- The person accused operated or had control over a vehicle at the time of the crash;
- 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; or
- The accused operated his or her vehicle with his or her normal faculties impaired due to the consumption of alcohol.
Prosecutors in Port Charlotte who handle DUI manslaughter cases are often pressured to secure a conviction against the accused. In so doing, they will urge investigators to undergo a thorough investigation in order to leave the defense with little to no chance of attacking the prosecution’s case.
An attorney who is inexperienced in handling DUI manslaughter cases may become overwhelmed by the amount of evidence submitted to the court by the prosecution. However, a seasoned lawyer with experience handling DUI manslaughter cases is knowledgeable as to how to attack the prosecution’s case and provide the accused with the best chance of securing a successful acquittal or a reduction of the charges to a lesser offense, which may result in little to no jail time.
DUI Manslaughter Law in Florida (FL)
Under Florida Statutes §316.193(3)(c)(3)(a), if a person is accused of committing DUI manslaughter, he or she will face a second-degree felony charge, which is associated with a jail term of up to fifteen years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The accused may also face probation, substance abuse treatment, and community service.
It is important to realize that the judge issuing the sentence does not have the ability to seek a reduction of the incarceration portion of the offender’s sentence to less than four years committed. Additionally, a skilled Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter lawyer knows that the sentencing judge must issue a sentence that is consistent with the Florida Criminal Punishment Code (the “Code”), as provided in Florida Statutes §921.0022. Accordingly, any advice that a Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter defense attorney offers to his or her client must include an examination of the Code Under the Code, when a person is convicted of DUI manslaughter, he or she will face a 124.5-month prison sentence, as this crime qualifies as a Level 8 offense. The judge however, has the discretion of departing from the Code guidelines when appropriate.
Charlotte County DUI Conviction and Collateral Consequences
There are additional consequences (other than monetary fines and jail time) that are associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction. As noted above, the judge will order that the offender submit to a probationary period for up to fifteen years. If the offender does not adhere to the terms of probation, then he or she could be sent back to prison. The court will impose certain restrictions and requirements on the offender that are typical of DUI manslaughter cases. The judge will also order certain terms of probation that are unique to the offender. Specifically, the offender may be ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device, undergo substance abuse counseling that is paid out of the pocket of the offender, submit to alcohol and drug testing, and complete a certain number of hours of community service.
An additional consequence of a DUI manslaughter conviction is that the offender’s vehicle will be impounded for a certain timeframe. The judge may also order the offender to attend a DUI educational training program and have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle, if his or her driving privileges have been restored.
Hardship License After DUI Conviction
In addition to the above-referenced repercussions associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction, the state will also revoke the offender’s driver’s license. However, the state may choose to reinstate an offender’s license pursuant to a showing of hardship. The following are the conditions that must be met in order for an offender to regain his or her driving privileges:
- The offender has not driven a vehicle for at least five years prior to his or her application for reinstatement;
- The offender has not taken any alcohol or drugs since his or her arrest;
- The offender has not subsequently been arrested for driving on a revoked license or for any drug-related crimes;
- The offender’s automobile has had an ignition interlock device installed therein for at least two years before the application for reinstatement has been submitted; 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 Port Charlotte DUI Manslaughter Cases
The facts and circumstances dictate which defenses may apply in a DUI manslaughter case. When a Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter attorney is retained in a DUI manslaughter case, he or she analyzes each and every detail of the matter in order to challenge the prosecution’s case. Specifically, when the lawyers at Musca Law choose to pursue a DUI manslaughter case, they immediately begin to work on creating the strongest defense possible. However, they urge someone facing an accusation of DUI manslaughter to seek out a qualified DUI manslaughter defense attorney as soon as possible given that (i) there are various perils associated with talking to police, and (ii) valuable evidence, including eyewitness accounts, may be lost.
The DUI manslaughter defense attorneys at Musca Law seek to immediately preserve the physical evidence that is present at the scene of the accident, which must be handled in a special way in order to avoid being lost or destroyed. Specifically, the evidence left behind by a crash does not remain on the road for a long period of time, as law enforcement and clean-up crews start clearing the scene of the accident once the investigation has been completed.
The police will take photographs of the accident scene, however, a thorough defense lawyer will analyze the accident scene closely and conduct an investigation as soon as possible following the accident. In so doing, the defense attorney will be able to ascertain certain key facts about the accident, as yaw marks, gouge marks, and skid marks are primary indicators of what happened during a crash.
Musca Law’s team of skilled Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter defense attorneys are knowledgeable of the fact that law enforcement will hire a crash investigator to examine the accident in order to focus the blame on the accused for causing the crash. This is why it is essential for an accused to hire a defense crash expert to assist him or her in trial preparation. By hiring a defense crash expert, the lawyers at Musca Law will be able to better ascertain the significance of the prosecution’s findings and develop a defense strategy to attack their expert’s conclusions. By not hiring a defense expert to examine the government’s case 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 Port Charlotte, work zealously to protect the legal rights and interests of their clients. In fact, they are ready to defend their clients to the fullest extent of the law during each stage of their case. Our seasoned DUI manslaughter defense 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 Port Charlotte
DUI cases involving a death tend to last a significant period of time, which can be frustrating for the accused, as he or she may be held on a high bond and not be able to immediately post it. Musca Law’s attorneys understand the frustration. However, they do not rush cases to trial, which can lead to an unnecessary conviction. Alternatively, they examine each aspect of the case and all details associated therewith in order to develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
We advocate for our clients at each stage of their case. 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 phase of a DUI manslaughter case, our lawyers file motions to compel the state to produce all of the evidence in their possession, including exculpatory evidence. Upon learning of such evidence, the prosecution must offer it to the defense. If the prosecution does not provide such evidence to the defense, a skilled Port Charlotte DUI manslaughter defense attorney will seek to have the court force the state to produce it. The prosecutor must provide to the defense all of the evidence that it intends upon using at trial.
Once the discovery stage has been completed, the defense will file motions to dismiss and motions to suppress, if applicable. A motion to dismiss can be successful in throwing out some or all of the charges dismissed. Conversely, a motion to suppress can also be a highly effective tool for attacking the prosecution’s evidence. This motion can prove vital in preventing evidence that was obtained by law enforcement in violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. 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 presiding judge, which effectively shapes the evidence that will be submitted to the jury. Specifically, the purpose of this motion is to remove inflammatory, irrelevant, or prejudicial evidence from being presented to the jury during a trial. A motion in limine is also effective in preventing the admission of evidence that does not comport with Florida’s evidentiary standards.
Keep in mind that some defense strategies focus upon attacking the conclusions of the prosecutor’s evidence as a result of bias. Other strategies of defense seek to show how law enforcement did not properly administer a field sobriety test or portable breath test. Or, in the alternative, that the machine used to determine one’s breath alcohol concentration was not properly calibrated, leading to the allegedly skewed results.
Another defense strategy that is commonly raised by the defense is known as the “wheel defense.” Specifically, the prosecution has the burden of establishing that the accused operated or had control of the vehicle involved in the crash. However, if no one saw the accused behind the wheel, then the prosecution cannot succeed in proving an essential element of their case.
The defense can also pursue the strategy of placing blame on the victim in order to demonstrate that he or she was the cause of his or her own death. While this is often a sensitive subject, the defense can make a showing that the victim drove while distracted, was going at an excessive rate of speed, and/or committed a traffic violation that led to his or her demise. In this instance, the accused may be acquitted of DUI manslaughter however, the jury could still convict him or her of the lesser-included offense of DUI should the evidence presented 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 Port Charlotte 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.