DUI Manslaughter Lawyers in Vero Beach, Florida
Vero Beach is a popular city in Florida that is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife. That is why it is not uncommon for a person to be charged with DUI in Vero Beach after a night of drinking at the city’s many bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, some DUIs that occur in Vero Beach involve the death of a person due to an accident. The reality is that any accident, whether it involves a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, pickup truck, or tractor-trailer, among others, can have serious consequences, even without drug or alcohol use as a factor in causing the crash.
When a person drinks alcohol or takes drugs, whether prescription or recreational, and gets into an accident, the penalties can be extremely harsh under Florida law. Specifically, a person can be charged with DUI manslaughter if he or she is impaired and causes an accident where another individual is killed. That person can be another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or anyone else harmed in the crash.
In addition to potential imprisonment, probation, monetary fines, and the loss of one’s license, individuals who have been convicted of DUI manslaughter are forever labeled as felons. Being a felon in Vero Beach means that he or she may have trouble entering the workplace, finding a place to live, or going to college. The consequences of a DUI manslaughter conviction in Vero Beach are endless.
However, if you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Vero Beach, you need to have a seasoned Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense attorney to advocate on your behalf and fight to seek a dismissal or reduction of charges. While no Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense attorney can guarantee a positive result, a highly experienced attorney with significant resources can offer an accused with the best defense strategy possible.
All those accused of DUI manslaughter are afforded certain rights that are guaranteed by the United States constitution and Florida’s constitution. Law enforcement and prosecutors alike must adhere to the law when accusing and charging a person with DUI manslaughter in Vero Beach. Every person accused of DUI manslaughter deserves to have the most aggressive attorney possible who will defend his or her rights to the fullest extent of the law. If evidence is not legally obtained, if an individual is not read his or her Miranda rights, or if there is insufficient evidence in the case (i.e., a breath test results in a breath alcohol concentration of less than 0.08%), among other possibilities, a lawyer may have grounds to pursue a dismissal of the DUI manslaughter charge in Vero Beach.
Too much is at stake to challenge a Vero Beach DUI manslaughter charge without the aid of a skilled lawyer and reputable law firm. If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Vero Beach, it is critical that you act immediately to secure legal representation. At Musca Law, our Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense lawyers represent those accused of DUI manslaughter on a regular basis. To find out how Musca Law can help you, contact our office 24/7 by calling toll-free at (888) 484-5057.
DUI Manslaughter Charges Under Florida Law
Murder and manslaughter charges are, unquestionably, the harshest crimes in Florida and throughout the United States. When prosecuting a murder charge, a state’s attorney in Florida must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to kill another individual. However, when dealing with an involuntary manslaughter case such as DUI manslaughter, the prosecution does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver intended to kill a person in the course of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Rather, pursuant to Florida Statutes §316.193(3)(c)(3), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused individual was operating a vehicle or had control over a vehicle at the time of the DUI accident;
- The DUI accident, through the accused individual’s operation of a vehicle, resulted in the death of another person or unborn child who could have lived if born (known as a “quick child”);
- The accused individual’s normal faculties were impaired from the consumption of alcohol or drugs at the time of the DUI accident; and
- The accused individual’s blood-alcohol concentration was .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or by .08 grams of alcohol per every 210 liters of breath.
As with any criminal offense, to be found guilty, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements listed above. If the prosecution cannot provide even one element of the crime of DUI manslaughter, then the accused cannot be subject to a conviction of this offense.
While the Vero Beach prosecution has a significant burden to meet, they often prevail in securing guilty verdicts, even if it is questionable as to whether all of the elements of DUI manslaughter have been met. Prosecutors fight tirelessly to seek a conviction, even when the facts of the case may not be fully clear.
Accordingly, it is crucial that any person accused of DUI manslaughter seek the services of a skilled Vero Beach DUI manslaughter attorney to represent his or her legal rights. Only a seasoned Vero Beach DUI manslaughter attorney (i) knows what to expect from the prosecution, (ii) has a stellar reputation in the community with other prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, and (iii) has a successful track record as well as the requisite experience and dedication necessary to represent the interests of a person accused of DUI manslaughter.
A lawyer without experience representing those accused of DUI manslaughter may not be capable of adequately representing the rights of an alleged offender. It is crucial to understand that a person’s livelihood is on the line when facing a serious felony that can amount to significant jail time and monetary fines. Hence, when looking to hire an attorney, it is important to retain a lawyer who has the skills and knowledge necessary to challenge the prosecution’s case and provide his or her client with a strong defense to the alleged crime.
Penalties for DUI Manslaughter in Vero Beach
In Florida, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony. A person who is convicted of this offense faces a maximum of fifteen years in jail as well as a monetary fine of up to $10,000. While judges have the discretion under Florida law to reduce a prison term, they can only do so pursuant to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. The minimum term of imprisonment for a DUI manslaughter conviction under the Florida is four years (Florida Statutes §921.002). As such, a person facing a Vero Beach DUI manslaughter charge should expect to face jail time if a conviction is secured against him or her. This is yet another reason why who a person chooses to represent himself or herself in court plays such a large role in the outcome of a criminal case.
Additional Repercussions Associated with a Vero Beach DUI Manslaughter Conviction
Probation following a Vero Beach DUI manslaughter conviction is a certainty. The purpose of probation is to monitor an individual’s behavior for a certain period of time after a conviction as well as to help him or her reintegrate into society and maintain sobriety. Any violation of the terms of probation under Florida law may result in additional jail time.
While a judge will order standard terms of probation that apply in every DUI manslaughter case, he or she has the discretion to impose specific probationary terms that are unique to a person’s case. For instance, a judge may order the offender to complete a certain number of hours of community service, undergo random drug and alcohol testing, wear an electronic monitoring device, along with substance abuse counseling.
Florida is a very diverse state that is home to many immigrants, many of whom hold green cards and are not United States citizens. Hence, if a non-citizen immigrant is convicted of DUI manslaughter, and that person can face deportation. While such a move can be challenged in immigration court, avoiding a DUI manslaughter conviction is a prime way in which to prevent deportation. Avoiding conviction begins with having the right attorney.
There are additional consequences of a DUI manslaughter conviction, which can affect a person’s life moving forward. Specifically, a person’s goals in life may be hampered by having a felony record, and his or her reputation may be permanently tarnished. Also, a person can lose his or her driving privileges on a permanent basis.
Receiving a Florida “Hardship” Driver’s License After a DUI Manslaughter Conviction
In Florida, a person who has been convicted of DUI manslaughter will have his or her driver’s license permanently revoked. However, the law also allows some discretion to reinstate a person’s driver’s license (called a “Hardship” license) if certain conditions are met, which include the following:
- The person has not driven for at least five (5) years prior to submitting an application for reinstatement of his/her driver’s license;
- The person has not consumed alcohol or drugs;
- The person has not faced any additional arrests for drug or alcohol-related offenses and has not been found to be driving while on a revoked license;
- The person’s vehicle has an ignition interlock device installed, and such device has been installed for at least two years prior to applying for reinstatement of his/her driver’s license; and
- The person has successfully completed Florida’s DUI educational program, has submitted to random drug/alcohol testing, and has agreed to supervision by the DUI program for the entire period of the hardship license.
One violation of any term of the hardship license agreement will result in the immediate revocation of the hardship license.
Preserving Evidence in Your Vero Beach DUI Manslaughter Case
Evidence is essential when proving or disproving a prosecution’s case. Specifically, a prosecutor will rely upon physical evidence such as BAC test results, witness testimony, and evidence found at the scene of the DUI-related crash in order to establish that a person is guilty of DUI manslaughter in Vero Beach. Evidence is also important in the defense’s case. If the evidence presented by the defense suggests that the prosecution cannot meet its burden of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then an acquittal or reduction in charges may be secured.
At Musca Law, our seasoned team of Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense lawyers know how vital it is to preserve all evidence. The scene of a crime do not last very long. Therefore, any evidence that can be obtained shortly after the crime allegedly occurred is vital to the case. Accordingly, as soon as our Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense lawyers are retained, they immediately work to obtain and preserve all available evidence, which may include visiting the crash scene, taking photographs, and speaking with the accused and any eyewitnesses. Moreover, it is also critical for the defense to obtain toxicology and autopsy results of the person killed in the DUI-related crash. For instance, if the decedent was intoxicated at the time of the crash, such evidence can prove vital when defending a DUI manslaughter charge.
At Musca Law, we are aware of what to expect from investigators, law enforcement, and the prosecution. Law enforcement officers will pursue an accident reconstruction expert to tell the jury the story of what occurred in the crash. Like the prosecution, the defense will have the opportunity to present expert testimony from the defendant’s perspective. For each allegation that is raised by the prosecution, the defense has the chance, through the submission of evidence, to rebut the assertion. Having the necessary evidence to do so can make or break a defendant’s defense.
Strategies for Going to Trial – Fighting Your India River County, DUI Manslaughter Charge
DUI manslaughter cases tend to move slowly through the court system, which can cause the accused to experience frustration and despair. At Musca Law, we understand how frustrating a DUI manslaughter case can be, especially in a case where the accused is held on a high bond and cannot have it immediately posted. Our lawyers do not rush cases to trial, which is often counterproductive. In the alternative, the Vero Beach DUI manslaughter defense lawyers at Musca Law carefully analyze the facts of each case in order to develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
Each aspect of our client’s case provides our skilled team of Vero Beach DUI manslaughter lawyers with the chance to advocate on his or her behalf. Specifically, one of the most critical stages of a DUI manslaughter case is the pre-trial motion stage, which may be split into three different categories, as follows: 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 attorneys file motions to compel the state to produce all of their evidence, including exculpatory evidence. Upon receipt of such evidence, the prosecutor must submit it to the court for the defense’s review. If the prosecution does not provide his or her evidence to the court, the skilled Vero Beach DUI defense lawyers at Musca Law will file a motion to compel the state’s attorney to produce it. The government must also provide to the court all evidence that it intends on using at trial.
Once the discovery phase has ended, the defense will file a motion to dismiss as well as a motion to suppress, if applicable. A motion to dismiss can result in the court throwing out some or all of the charges pending against the alleged offender. Notwithstanding, a motion to suppress can be used to prevent the court from admitting evidence that was obtained pursuant to an improper search and seizure by law enforcement. Also, statements made to police in violation of a person’s Miranda rights could be another effective tool for excluding certain damning evidence from trial.
Lastly, a motion in limine is a motion that the judge hears which has the purpose of shaping the evidence that is submitted to the jury. Specifically, it removes inflammatory, irrelevant, or prejudicial evidence from trial. Motions in limine could also request that the judge prevent the prosecution from attempting to admit expert testimony that does not meet Florida’s evidentiary standards.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend Your Rights
If you or a loved one is facing a Vero Beach DUI manslaughter charge, act quickly to seek the advice of a seasoned Vero Beach DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorney. Your constitutional rights are on the line and you need the best defense possible from the start. Musca Law is a large criminal defense firm that has extensive experience handling serious criminal charges. To speak with a Vero Beach Defense Attorney about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 24/7. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.