If you are reading this page, there is a good chance you have not been arrested yet. Maybe you were in an accident in Fort Walton Beach where someone died, but the police are still waiting for the toxicology results. Or maybe you were injured in the accident so they are waiting until you recover.
I can only imagine how unbearable the waiting must be. Waiting for the police to show up at your home or work to take you to jail. As terrible as this must be, there is a silver lining. If you have not been arrested yet, or if the police haven’t shown up to question you yet, you can still protect yourself by telling them you will not answer any questions without your attorney present. You can also tell them that you do not consent to any tests, lineups, or searches without your Fort Walton Beach DUI manslaughter attorney present.
An experienced felony attorney can make ALL the difference
The next thing for you to do is hire the best Fort Walton Beach felony defense attorneys you can afford. Why do I say felony attorney and not DUI attorney? Because most of the DUI attorneys in our local area have no business whatsoever taking on a serious and complex felony charge like DUI Manslaughter. It is one thing to plead someone guilty to probation in a misdemeanor DUI in traffic court. But walking into felony court where the judge and the prosecutor will be looking to lock you up for the next 10-15 years is another thing altogether. You need attorneys with the guts and the experience to rise to this challenge with you. A team who won’t back down from this fight.
DUI Manslaughter in Fort Walton Beach Under Florida Law
Florida Statute chapter 316.193 defines DUI as:
“a person is guilty of driving under the influence if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and the person is under the influence of alcohol or chemical substances to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired.”
DUI Manslaughter in Fort Walton Beach and throughout Florida is defined in Fla. Stat. 316.193(3) as:
“any person who is driving under the influence, who operates a vehicle, and who by reason of such operation, causes or contributes to causing, the death of any human being or unborn child, commits DUI Manslaughter.”
Penalty for DUI Manslaughter in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
DUI Manslaughter is a second degree felony which means that the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison.
There are a number of considerations in DUI Manslaughter that greatly impact the sentence:
- Under the Florida Punishment Code, DUI Manslaughter is a level 8 offense which normally “scores out” to 34.5 months in prison. However, because someone died, the prosecutor will also charge an additional 120 points on the scoresheet for victim death. These additional points raise the minimum sentence to over 10 years.
- Even if the court were inclined to grant a downward departure sentence, the statute also requires a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years in prison if you are convicted. The judge does not have the discretion to depart from a minimum mandatory sentence. This means that a conviction requires at least 4 years in prison.
- The prosecutor in Fort Walton Beach will charge you with a separate count punishable by 15 years in prison for each person that died.
- Because of the tragedy of someone losing their life, the judge and the prosecutor will be under tremendous pressure to impose a harsh sentence. The victim’s family will most likely be asking the judge to give you the maximum sentence.
Defending DUI Manslaughter in Fort Walton Beach
Normally, I will create a checklist of possible defenses that may apply to the particular charge. I am not going to do that here. DUI Manslaughter cases are complex and there are too many variables to be able to give a standardized list.
You will need criminal defense attorneys who are well-versed in DUI law along with extensive experience defending serious felony cases in Fort Walton Beach. You need attorneys experienced with going to trial, conducting complicated motion hearings, presenting compelling sentencing arguments, etc.
In other words, attorneys who will know how to craft a strategy that gives you the best chance of avoiding the worst case scenario which is spending at least the next 15 years in prison.
Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with BUI Manslaughter in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 403-6835 for a free consultation.