To prove a criminal case of vehicular homicide in Florida, the State must prove reckless driving plus one additional fact, the death of a person. Vehicular homicide, simply stated reckless driving plus a death caused by the reckless driving.
In the vehicular homicide cases handled by the firm, the fact that there was a death has never been contested. There has always been a dead person who died as a result of blunt force trauma incurred during the crash and usually the person died at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter. Therefore, the litigation and defense centers on whether the person accused of vehicular homicide was driving recklessly. Early preservation of the scene is the key to a successful defense.
In a recent case out of Miami, a tourist inexplicably stopped in the oncoming lane while trying to make a left-hand turn. The tourist’s vehicle was struck by another vehicle speeding at 29 miles over the limit. The rear seat passenger of the tourist car died. Initially, the tourist was charged with the non-criminal traffic infraction of violation of the right of way. Later, the Highway Patrol changed its mind and charged the speeding driver with vehicular homicide citing speeding without regard for the safety of others. Normally, there is a jingle amongst criminal defense attorneys that is that “speed alone will not support a conviction for vehicular homicide”.
Some may think that the Highway Patrol initially charging the tourist and not the speeder would be enough for a reasonable doubt such that the State of Florida would not prosecute. Unfortunately for the defendant in that case, he had to spend time in jail until the court agreed and set him free. The court refused to rule based on the “speed alone” jingle and it also warned that “[j]udgment by jingle is a perilous exercise, but if there must be a jingle in this area of the law, we would prefer, [s]peed alone is not enough, except when it is”. This could be an indication that the reckless / vehicular homicide area of law may be evolving to the detriment of the accused.
Being accused by the government is a scary thing. Do not go to court without a lawyer, a Defendant has rights that should be known and used. Please call, click or fill out the form to discuss strategy in your criminal or traffic case.
Luzardo v. State.