According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year in the United States. Many of these accidents result in not only the tragic loss of life but also in a person being charged with vehicular manslaughter. Although it’s a sad set of circumstances for a family to lose a loved one in a car accident, not every motorist that is charged with vehicular homicide should be.
In this two-part article, we will first discuss the definition of vehicular manslaughter also known as vehicular homicide. In the second section, we will discuss specific ways that a person can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. If you are in need of a manslaughter defense attorney in Tampa please contact us today.
Under Florida Statute Section 782.071, vehicular homicide is defined as “the killing of a human being” that is “caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” The term “reckless” is very important as reckless driving under Florida Statute Section 316.192 is defined as “any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Investopedia defines wanton disregard as “severe negligence” that “indicated that a person behaved extremely recklessly.” Although wanton disregard doesn’t mean that the behavior was malicious, the definition indicates that the act went beyond typical negligence or carelessness. In other words, this means that a person will be found guilty of vehicular homicide or reckless driving if the prosecution can prove that the accused party operated their vehicle “in reckless disregard” of the other motorist’s safety.
Because of the grave nature of the crime, the penalty for vehicular manslaughter can be extremely serious. As it states in Florida Statute Section 782.071, vehicular homicide is punishable as a “felony of the second degree,” “a felony of the first degree,” “a right of action for civil damages shall exist,” and the “court may order the person to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital.” The severity of these penalties can greatly vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If a person is found guilty of a second degree felony, the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison. If the driver willfully left the scene of the accident, this may increase to a first degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.