When a driver’s reckless driving leads to an accidental death of another driver or pedestrian, they could face vehicular homicide charges. This is a serious charge that carries heavy penalties, including a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Vehicular homicide in Orlando is considered one of the most impactful offenses drivers can be charged with as it involves another person losing their life. If you are facing these charges, it would be wise to hire an criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, FL as soon as you can to start building your case early.
What exactly is vehicular homicide?
Vehicular homicide is the accidental killing of a human being by the negligence of another person while operating a motor vehicle. You can only be convicted of this offense if the prosecutors can prove you were operating the vehicle carelessly and that the accident was directly caused by your recklessness.
Note that just because your car fatally hit someone or slammed into another car resulting in loss of life doesn’t automatically suggest you were driving recklessly. Had that been the case, virtually all fatal motor accidents would have resulted in criminal convictions. The law of Florida provides that the prosecution must prove that the driver was negligent at the time of the accident for them to be convicted.
Accident reconstructions can be really useful in determining if you are guilty of reckless driving since witness counts alone cannot be used to draw a conclusion. Read on for punishments you are likely to face if found guilty of a vehicular homicide.
Penalties for vehicular homicide in Orlando
A vehicular homicide conviction in Florida is a second degree felony and could lead to one or both of the following penalties:
- A jail term of up to 15 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Hit-and-run cases carry harsher punishments with the driver facing up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Note that it doesn’t matter what caused you to flee the scene of the accident; if you are involved in an accident and decide to drive off, you face elevated penalties if the court finds you to be the guilty party.
You could also face an inflated fine or prison sentence if you have had a prior felony conviction. That applies for both first and second degree vehicular homicide.
Additional punishments that the judge or jury may subject you to include:
- Mandatory rehabilitation or DUI classes
- Community service up to 120 hours
What is reckless driving?
Florida law takes into consideration the fact that mistakes do happen and someone doesn’t necessarily have to be at fault for a fatal accident to occur. Thus to be convicted of vehicular homicide, a driver’s reckless driving must be shown to have caused the death of another driver, a passenger or a pedestrian. Here is what reckless driving may include:
- Intentionally driving into another car
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Exceeding the speed limit by 20mph or more
- Fleeing the police
- Driving under the influence