A motorcyclist was arrested this month on two serious felonies, charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in an August crash that killed a pedestrian. The driver is accused of going between 70 and 80 mph on a road with a 30 mph speed limit, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A 23-year-old pedestrian, who police think was trying to cross the unlit road, was hit and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver was also injured in the crash and had a blood-alcohol level of .089 and .091 on two tests – above the legal limit of .08 on both.
Vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter are both second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In both cases, the charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the driver leaves the scene without rendering aid, which did not appear to be the case in this Clay County Traffic Case. So, in this Clay County DUI Case, the man is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted on both counts and sentenced consecutively. And while the two charges seem identical, there are differences – the major one related to sentencing. A conviction in a DUI manslaughter case comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. The vehicular homicide case does not have a minimum mandatory sentence attached to it. The elements needed to prove the crime are different, too. In vehicular homicide, the state has to prove the driver was reckless when he or she caused the accident. For DUI manslaughter, all that must be proven is the driver was intoxicated and caused, at least in part, the accident.
In many Clay County Traffic Cases, defendants do not have a lengthy criminal record prior to the arrest, different from what you may see when someone is arrested on a Clay County Drug Charge. That can make a four-year minimum mandatory sentence the impetus for a defendant to get working on a plea agreement. In this Clay County Felony Case, while the driver doesn’t have serious charges on his record, the newspaper reported the 27-year-old had 36 traffic citations over the past 10 years. Those would not be part of the evidence should this Clay County Traffic Case end up going to trial – the information would not be presented to a jury. However, a person’s record is relevant and known to the prosecutors and the judge, and will be part of the consideration in terms of any plea negotiations or sentencing from the judge if the driver chooses to plead guilty without a deal in hand from the state. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people with minor criminal records who suddenly find themselves facing serious prison time. Our Clay County DUI Attorney can thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and explain all of the consequences so you can make an informed decision going forward.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.