- Helping Clients with Their Legal Challenges for over 30 Years
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- 185 Jury Trials Handled
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Protect Yourself from Harsh Legal Penalties
Charges for vehicular homicide or serious bodily injury come with serious penalties in Florida — a conviction for these crimes brings felony charges and years of prison time. If you’ve been charged with vehicular homicide in Florida, you need a vehicular homicide lawyer to begin working on your defense immediately. These are serious charges, and the sooner you involve an experienced lawyer, the better your chance of improving your legal outcome.
Taracks & Associates is a leader in Florida criminal defense. Barry Taracks has practiced criminal law in Florida for over 30 years. His experience as a criminal defense attorney and a former state prosecutor gives him a keen understanding of how juries and prosecuting attorneys think. This allows him to build a powerful defense that his clients rightfully deserve.
Call Taracks & Associates today at 813-990-0599 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Tampa VEHICULAR HOMICIDE attorney.
Why Choose Taracks & Associates?
30 Years of Experience in Florida Criminal Law
Taracks & Associates is a Tampa criminal defense firm with a reputation for producing life-altering results for clients facing serious legal penalties.
Barry Taracks, the founding attorney of Taracks & Associates, spent many years working as a state prosecutor. This means that he knows how the Florida state prosecution works to produce convictions. He also saw how individuals often faced convictions and harsh sentencing for charges that could have been reduced or dropped entirely if they had had a solid defense.
With this knowledge, Barry Taracks left his position as a state prosecutor and founded Taracks & Associates, leveraging his knowledge of the Florida criminal justice system to defend the freedom of those facing harsh legal penalties they don’t deserve.
When clients charged with vehicular homicide or serious bodily injury in Tampa choose Barry Taracks as their criminal defense lawyer, they gain the benefit of:
- A former state prosecutor’s insider knowledge
- 30 years of experience in Florida criminal law
- Over 10,000 criminal cases handled
- The lead attorney in nearly 200 jury trials
- Extensive knowledge of Florida case law
- Track record of proven results.
Our case results speak for themselves — our firm knows how to help the clients we represent. Barry Taracks changes the lives of his clients, saving them from life-altering convictions and years of life spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
If you’ve been charged with vehicular homicide or serious bodily injury in the Tampa area, your future is at stake. You need an experienced vehicular homicide attorney working to build your defense immediately.
The time to fight for your freedom is now. Call Taracks & Associates today at 813-990-0599 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Tampa vehicular homicide lawyer.
Understanding Florida’s Laws on Death and Injury Caused by a Car Accident
Vehicular Homicide Charges in Florida
When a car accident in Florida ends with a fatality, the driver deemed responsible for the accident may face charges of vehicular homicide. A driver may face vehicular homicide charges for the death of another driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved in the accident.
It’s also possible to be charged with vehicular homicide for the death of an unborn child caused by injuries to the mother. See Huckaba v. State, 260 So. 3d 377 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (the information was erroneous where information charged defendant with killing an “unborn child” rather than “viable fetus” as required by the version of section 782.071 in effect at the time of the commission of the crime (subsequently changed by the legislature effective 2015 to “unborn child”); because the viability of the fetus was unchallenged, the error was not fundamental and the conviction sustained).
To be convicted of these charges, the prosecution will need to prove that the driver’s recklessness or negligence was the cause of the accident. “Vehicular homicide requires that the defendant (1) kill a human being, (2) by the operation of a motor vehicle, (3) in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another.” McCullough v. State, 230 So. 3d 586, 593 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017).
Common reasons for a driver to be charged with vehicular homicide in Florida include:
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Failure to maintain control of the vehicle
- Street racing
Speeding alone is insufficient to show recklessness necessary for vehicular homicide purposes unless the speed is grossly excessive, and without the “grossly excessive” circumstance the evidence will not sustain a vehicular homicide conviction. Damoah v. State, 189 So.3d 316, 41 F.L.W. D957 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) (See this case for discussion of cases where recklessness was based on speeding.)
Where a death resulted from an accident while the defendant was street racing and there was no evidence of impairment by drugs or alcohol, the officers investigating the vehicular homicide did not need to read the Implied Consent warnings before requesting a voluntary blood draw or explain that the blood draw was a convenient alternative, and because the blood draw as truly voluntary, the results were admissible. State v. Murray, 51 So. 3d 593 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).
If a driver involved in a fatal accident fails to stop at the scene and provide assistance and personal information, it’s considered an aggravated offense and is accompanied by more severe legal penalties.
If there is evidence of alcohol or drugs or chemicals of abuse as a factor in an accident resulting in death, the driver likely won’t face charges of vehicular homicide. Florida law reserves a separate and different charge for DUI accidents that result in death: vehicular manslaughter.
See State v. Komara, 14 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 648a (Fla. 13th Circuit, County Court for Hillsborough Co., 2007), where, in a hearing where the court denied a motion to exclude test results, the court properly stated, “The State’s ability to use a breath affidavit in lieu of the traditional scientific predicate is not absolute. An affidavit in lieu of the traditional scientific predicate is available to the State only if the breath test was conducted in accordance with FSS§ 316.1932 or 316.1933, the Implied Consent law. See Bender, 382 So.2d at 700; State v. Miles, 775So.2d 950, 953 (Fla. 2000)”, finding reasonable suspicion of impaired operation justified the test.
And be aware that “the State’s theory, ‘a crash plus a death [or serious bodily injury] always makes medical blood relevant’, is not the law”, see Gomillion, 267 So.3d at 507; State v. Rivers, 787 So. 2d 952, 953 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) and Rodriguez v. State, 308 So.3d 1018 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010); when the State seeks to obtain medical records by subpoena, there must be a reasonable suspicion that the records will contain relevant evidence, and when there is no other evidence of impaired operation to give that reasonable suspicion, the privacy of medical records controls.
Serious Bodily Injury Charges
2022 Florida Statutes Section 316.027 defines “serious bodily injury as, “an injury to a person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.”
Florida law defines serious bodily injury as a type of injury that meets one of the following criteria:
- Poses a substantial risk of death
- Causes serious personal disfigurement
- Long-term loss or impairment of a body part or organ.
Serious bodily injury charges are usually reserved for injuries that the victim is unlikely to recover from and those that lead to a permanent difference in physical function, ability, or appearance.
Injuries most likely to result in charges of serious bodily harm include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal injury
- Loss of a limb
- Significant scarring
- Loss of fertility or sexual function.
When accidents result in serious injury rather than death, a Florida driver can be charged with serious bodily injury. It’s also possible to face charges of both serious bodily injury and vehicular homicide if multiple individuals were killed or seriously injured in an accident.
But see State v. Schreiber, 835 So. 2d 344, 347-8 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (“Furthermore, we hold [the officer] lacked authority to compel [the defendant’s] blood pursuant to section 316.1933(1), where the only injury resulting from the accident was [the defendant’s] two fractured ankles, from which she fully recovered) and Galgano v. Buchanan, 783 So. 2d 302 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (broken leg resulting in 5% permanent impairment did not constitute “serious bodily injury”).
Penalties for Serious Bodily Injury and Vehicular Homicide in Florida
The penalties for charges related to vehicular homicide and serious bodily injury depend on a few factors. Primarily, it depends on whether the victim suffered injury or death. But it also depends on how the defendant responded and whether they have any previous driving-related charges on record.
Vehicular Homicide Penalties
Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony in Florida, and penalties include a prison sentence of up to 15 years, fines of up to $10,000, and lasting felony charges on record.
When the driver in question left the scene of the accident or failed to render assistance or personal information, they can be charged with vehicular homicide without providing information or rendering aid. This increases the charge to a first-degree felony, punishable with up to a $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
If the accused driver has two prior Florida violent felony convictions on record, they risk facing a much longer sentencing time — potentially life in prison, see Florida’s “Three Strikes Rule”.
Serious Bodily Injury Penalties
A conviction for serious bodily injury in Florida is a third-degree felony, and penalties include a prison sentence of up to five years and up to $5,000 in fines. As with vehicular homicide, if the driver facing charges has previous felonies on record, they may face a longer sentence because the prior felony convictions are sentence scoresheet enhancements under Florida law.
Pursuant to State v. Maisonet-Maldonado, 308 So.3d 63, (Fla. 2020), DUI with Serious Bodily Injury or Death can be separately charged at the same time as Vehicular Manslaughter and, if convicted, sentenced separately, significantly increasing the exposure of the defendant to lengthy prison sentences. And, in accidents involving death or serious bodily injury to multiple parties, penalties for serious bodily injury can be added to other penalties. See State v. Lamoureux, 660 So. 2d 1063 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1995) and Melbourne v. State, 21 Fla. L. Weekly S358 (Fla. 1996).
If you’ve been charged with serious bodily injury or vehicular homicide in Florida, you’re facing the possibility of a hefty fine and a lengthy prison sentence. Improving your court outcome requires involving a vehicular homicide lawyer immediately. Call Taracks & Associates at 813-990-0599 to arrange a free consultation with a Tampa vehicular homicide attorney today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Common Questions About Vehicular Homicide and Serious Bodily Injury in Florida
If you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular homicide or serious bodily injury, you likely have many questions about your charges and the potential consequences. Here are some questions frequently seen at Taracks & Associates.
Criminal charges for both vehicular homicide and serious bodily injury are felonies in Florida. As such, a conviction for either comes with a lengthy prison sentence, hefty legal fines, and criminal charges that stay on record forever, impacting other areas of life like employment and housing opportunities.
If you’ve been charged with either serious bodily injury or vehicular homicide in Florida, you need to contact an experienced vehicular homicide attorney immediately. A lawyer can help to significantly reduce your sentencing time if you’re convicted, and they may even be able to get your charges dropped.
A skilled vehicular homicide lawyer may be able to get your charges dismissed entirely. This outcome is dependent on many factors, including the circumstances of the accident, the evidence against you, the experience of your lawyer, and how soon you involve a lawyer in your case.
When the prosecution’s evidence makes it impossible to get charges of vehicular homicide dropped, a vehicular homicide lawyer can still have a significant impact on your case. Without a lawyer, you can face up to 15 years in prison. An experienced attorney can work to see that you receive a much shorter sentence than you might otherwise receive.
Florida law carries serious consequences for drivers whose actions result in the death of another. A simple charge of vehicular homicide alone is enough to land the convicted driver in prison for up to 15 years.
However, there are several situations in which a driver can face the possibility of an even longer sentence. Leaving the scene of the accident, failing to render assistance and personal information, causing death or injury to more than one person, and having previous felonies on record are all factors that can significantly increase a convicted driver’s sentence.
Vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter in Florida are possible charges after a traffic accident results in death. The primary difference concerns whether the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle while impaired. If the driver facing charges is found guilty of driving under the influence, they are charged with vehicular manslaughter. If alcohol was not a contributing factor in the crash, the driver is charged with vehicular homicide.
Of the two charges, vehicular manslaughter comes with a harsher penalty: a convicted driver must serve a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years. A conviction for vehicular homicide is not accompanied by any mandatory minimum sentencing, which means that a Tampa vehicular homicide attorney can make a significant difference to the amount of time served if the driver is convicted.
The cost of a Tampa vehicular homicide lawyer depends on many different factors. After all, the work that goes into building a defense is different in each case. A lawyer’s cost is calculated to represent factors such as investigation, research, expert consultations, and court appearances.
Some vehicular homicide cases can be resolved quickly when the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence; in other cases, your lawyer may have to go to extensive lengths to see your charges dropped or sentence reduced. However, in nearly every case, the cost of an experienced vehicular lawyer is an investment in your future — without skilled representation, you face thousands of dollars in legal fines and years in prison.
The charges you face are dependent on the circumstances of your accident. To understand your charges and the possible outcomes better, a Tampa vehicular homicide lawyer at Taracks & Associates can answer your questions during a free initial consultation.
How a Tampa Vehicular Homicide Lawyer Can Fight for Your Freedom
Once you’ve been charged with a felony like vehicular homicide, your first step should be to hire an experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer. Involving a lawyer immediately prevents you from accidentally making statements to the police that can be viewed as incriminating. It also ensures that evidence supporting your defense is preserved, witnesses are promptly interviewed, and the lawyer has time to build a strong defense before your court hearings.
A Tampa vehicular homicide lawyer will thoroughly examine your case and determine how to proceed. The first step typically involves conducting an independent investigation into the accident. In this step, the lawyer will go through all reports and documentation related to the incident. They may review case law for similar situations, collect witness testimony, or hire accident reconstruction experts to testify in your defense.
Ultimately, a conviction of vehicular homicide or serious bodily injury rests on the prosecution’s ability to prove that you acted negligently. Your lawyer will work to interpret the events of the accident in a way that shows your contribution did not amount to negligence. If this line of defense is successful, it can result in having your charges dropped entirely.
In some cases, the prosecution may have overwhelming evidence that proves in the eyes of the court that your actions were negligent. But even when getting charges dropped is not an option, your lawyer’s work is far from done.
A conviction for a felony like vehicular homicide can put a driver behind bars for 15 years, and that’s assuming that there aren’t additional factors at play that can lead to an even longer sentence. But a skilled criminal defense attorney will exhaust every line of defense available to build an argument for the most lenient sentencing possible, given the accident’s circumstances.
Call Taracks & Associates at 813-990-0599 to schedule a free initial consultation.