An Aggressive, Experienced & Compassionate Defense
We aggressively defend clients who are facing a DUI Manslaughter charge. Yet, we are always mindful of the need to be supportive and compassionate during this difficult time. After all, we recognize that you never intended to hurt anyone. Rather, sometimes a single momentary lapse of good judgment can result in a life-changing event. For this reason, we are committed to zealously defending your case while offering thoughtful support and understanding.
A DUI that Causes or Contributes to a Death
Some DUI Manslaughter cases involve the death of a passenger in the accused’s vehicle. Other cases may involve the death of another driver or his passenger. Unlike other criminal charges that involve the death of another human being, a DUI Manslaughter charge does not require the State to prove that the accused intended to cause the death of another person. Under Florida Statute §316.193(3), the prosecutor must show, beyond all reasonable doubt, that you were impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance and that the operation of your vehicle “caused or contributed to” the death of another person. By using the words “caused or contributed to,” the Florida Legislature has written the DUI Manslaughter statute broadly in order to encompass situations where the victim might be partially “at fault” for the accident that occurred in the case. On the other hand, the law does not permit a conviction for DUI Manslaughter where the accident was unavoidable or where your driving did not cause or contribute to the accident.
Challenging Blood Evidence
Florida law permits a blood draw if a traffic accident results in a fatality or serious bodily injury. As a result, blood evidence is typically the crux of the state’s case in their prosecution of Pinellas county DUI Manslaughter charges. A traffic accident normally makes field sobriety testing impractical. In addition, you may have been transported to a medical facility or treated by paramedics. As a result, your state of sobriety may not have been captured on video. All of these factors raises the importance and level of focus that will be directed on your blood test results.
Blood evidence can be “compelling” since it is considered more accurate than breath testing or urine analysis. However, only “reliable” blood test results are admissible as evidence in court. It is therefore imperative to closely scrutinize every aspect of the blood collection and lab analysis process.
Florida DUI Manslaughter Penalties
The commission of this crime is punishable as a second degree felony with a potential state prison sentence of up to fifteen (15) years. The Florida Criminal Punishment Code (sentencing guidelines) mandates a minimum state prison sentence even for those individuals who have no prior criminal history. A DUI Manslaughter charge can carry a maximum fine of $10,000. In addition, a conviction will result in a permanent revocation of the individual’s driving privilege. The Florida Legislature has added an additional aggravator if, after the crash, the subject “leaves the scene” or otherwise fails to render aid to the injured motorist. Such circumstances have the effect of enhancing the DUI Manslaughter charge to a first degree felony.
A conviction for a felony offense can never be sealed or expunged. As a convicted felon, you will be unable to vote, sit on a jury, or own, use, or possess a firearm. Felony convictions often interfere with employment opportunities and can impact your ability to be licensed in certain occupations.
How Long Until I am Arrested for DUI Manslaughter?
If you were involved in an auto accident that resulted in the death of another person, law enforcement may not have made an immediate decision to arrest you. Because of the serious nature of a DUI Manslaughter allegation, the authorities will typically conduct an extensive investigation before making an arrest. This generally includes witness interviews, photographic documentation of injuries and property damage, and an accident reconstruction. Law enforcement will likewise be required to draft detailed offense and accident investigation reports.
The police will normally await the blood alcohol results from laboratory testing at either the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office or the FDLE. They may also seek to subpoena your medical records, if your blood was drawn in connection with medical treatment. Because these activities take time, it is not unusual for an arrest to be made several weeks or months after the accident occurred.
If you have not yet been arrested, it is critical to quickly seek the advice of an experienced DUI Manslaughter attorney. We can help prepare you for the possibility of arrest and advise you on the best methods for securing a prompt release from the custody of the Pinellas County Jail. You are entitled to a bond under the rights protected by the Florida Constitution. Formulating a game plan now will allow us to demonstrate to the court that you are not a danger to the public and that you have significant ties to the community. These efforts are designed to persuade the court to set a reasonable bond for your release.
There is No Substitute for an Experienced DUI Manslaughter Attorney
A DUI Manslaughter case will almost always entail efforts by law enforcement to mount a comprehensive investigation. This felony criminal charge is a highly complex and emotionally charged matter. It will typically involve scientific evidence, forensic testing, accident reconstruction, and blood alcohol level extrapolation. Some cases may require a close examination as to the legality of the blood draw. In addition, medical testimony and the use of expert witnesses are common place. An experienced DUI defense attorney can identify the legal issues that arise in the context of each phase of the police investigation and attack the admissibility of evidence that the prosecutor might otherwise use in an effort to obtain a conviction.
We have made it our business to know law enforcement’s business. Consider our DUI Defense Team’s Qualifications:
- Former state prosecutors
- Prior Law Enforcement Advisor at DUI Checkpoints
- Certified in Proper Roadside Field Sobriety Testing
- Trained and Certified Intoxilyzer Operators
- Intoxilyzer Inspector
- Trained DUI Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)
- National College of DUI Defense Graduates
- NHTSA Pinellas County DUI Gold Standards Committee Members
If you or a loved one is charged with DUI Manslaughter in the Pinellas County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater area, it is imperative that you find an attorney who possesses the necessary background, training, and experience to meticulously develop an effective impaired driving defense.
Time is of the Essence
Every second counts when the threat of a DUI Manslaughter charge is looming. Valuable defense evidence may be lost if proactive steps are not promptly taken. For example, skid marks from the accident scene will fade over time. Failing to measure and photograph this important evidence may mean that it will never be documented or preserved. Likewise, security videos from area businesses may have captured the traffic accident. These videos are often deleted or erased if not quickly subpoenaed.
Our office takes a hands-on approach to gather evidence that could be crucial to our client’s defense. We often accompany our experts to the accident scene where photographs and measurements are secured. Interviewing potential witnesses can sometimes uncover evidence that was not discovered by law enforcement.
If appropriate, we can explore treatment options and other programs that demonstrate rehabilitation, reduce the risk of recidivism and show remorse. While your case is pending, such proactive efforts may ultimately be viewed favorably by the judge assigned to your case.
The sooner our office can become involved in a DUI Manslaughter case, the more quickly we can investigate the facts, explore possible defenses, and channel our efforts towards securing the best possible outcome.
We Are Passionate in Our Defense of DUI Manslaughter Cases
These are complex, high-stakes cases that require an intensive and exhaustive investigation. Every detail is important and must be scrutinized carefully. Through this analysis, our experienced team of DUI Defense Attorneys may be able to take advantage of weaknesses in the State’s case in order to seek a dismissal, reduction in charge, or to otherwise facilitate favorable plea negotiations. Our DUI Defense Team will consider these key issues:
- Can the State prove that our client was the driver of the motor vehicle that caused an accident?
- Can the State establish that our client caused or contributed to the accident that resulted in a death?
- Did the State properly “change hats” and inform our client that they had finished the traffic accident investigation and that they were now conducting a criminal DUI investigation?
- Did the officer properly advise our client of his/her Miranda warnings?
- Did the police properly conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
- Can the State prove that law enforcement established “probable cause” to believe that our client was under the influence of alcohol, chemical or controlled substances to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired?
- Did law enforcement lawfully collect blood evidence?
- Did law enforcement lawfully examine your medical records?
- Were the blood collection tubes properly labeled as required by the Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.012(4)?
- Did the EMT, paramedic or phlebotomist follow the proper protocol in collecting the blood evidence?
- Was the blood evidence properly handled through an appropriate “chain of custody?”
- Was the blood evidence properly tested in a timely manner?
- Was the blood evidence properly preserved and refrigerated pursuant to Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.012(5)?
- Did the blood collection tubes contain the appropriate preservative and anticoagulant?
- Will independent expert toxicological testing of the blood reveal a result different from that established by the State’s laboratory?
- Can a “rising blood alcohol defense” be utilized to establish that our client’s blood alcohol was below a .08 at the time of driving?