Florida DUI Manslaughter Plea Results in 17-Year Prison Sentence

April 6, 2012

The man accused of killing a Miami couple has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for Florida DUI manslaughter.
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Our Broward DUI manslaughter defense attorneys know that in this case, the defendant, a Navy veteran, received close to the maximum penalty allowable under law. His attorneys had sought a four-year prison term.

Florida Statute 316.193 outlines the definitions and penalties allowable for DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Lawmakers have made the sentences for these cases particularly harsh. For a first-time offender who didn't flee the scene, he or she faces a maximum of 15 years. That's per charge. So in this case, in which two people died, the defendant faced a maximum of 30 years in prison. If you do flee the scene, you face a maximum of 30 years in prison - per charge.

Judges, however, have a great deal of discretion when determining the ultimate sentence. They weigh a number of factors, including your past criminal history, the specific facts of the case before them, your perceived remorse (or lack thereof) and the testimony of both your character witnesses and those speaking on behalf of the alleged victims.

Some people make the mistake of simply sticking with a court-appointed defense attorney. The problem with that in these cases, however, is that each of these public defenders are overloaded with cases. Often, their goal is not what is in your best interest, but rather to resolve them quickly so they can move onto the next. When there is so much at stake, investing in a private attorney to represent you in a Miami DUI manslaughter case is one of the smartest moves you can make - one that could greatly impact the outcome of your case.

In this situation, according to newspaper reports, the Navy veteran from Northern Florida chose to plead guilty to two counts of driving under the influence and one count of DUI causing property damage. He accepted responsibility for the crash last summer that resulted in the death of the Haitian-born couple, who were parents to 11 children - including one whom they were taking to her freshman year in college when the accident occurred.

According to the defendant's attorney, he had driven to a nearby hotel to give a report back to relatives who were thinking of staying there. On his way back home, he stopped at two bars.

The defendant testified that he didn't remember the moments before the crash, but authorities say he was traveling at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour when he crashed into the rear of the couple's vehicle. His blood alcohol level was measured at 0.108 percent - above the 0.08 legal limit.

The defendant, a father himself, told the judge he wished it had been him who died instead.

The judge in this case considered this expression of remorse, as well as testimony from friends and family of the defendant and impact statements read by the victim's children, when handing down the sentence.

If you, a family member or other loved one is arrested and charged with a DUI in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, contact Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers today at 1-866-727-5384 to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
North Fla. man gets 17 years for Volusia crash that killed 2, By JAY STAPLETON, Staff Writer, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

More Blog Entries:
Man Charged With DUI Manslaughter Ordered to Stay in Miami, U.S., Jan. 21, 2012, Miami DUI Lawyer Blog