D. Scott Rieth Criminal Defense Attorney
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Determining culpability in roadway accidents

It has long been a point of contention, whether or not deaths caused inadvertently by operating a vehicle should ever be charged as a criminal homicide. However, such deaths currently can be considered criminal and they have been considered as such in past cases.

There are three types of criminal motor vehicle homicide. The highest standard in terms of a level of tolerated negligence is manslaughter by culpable negligence. This form of homicide resulting from negligence is a second-degree felony and basically is directed at anyone who demonstrates a very clear lack of regard for human life in a way that shows they know their reckless behavior could have a deadly repercussion and yet they engage anyway.

For instance, let's say someone decides they would rather show off their speed to a crowd on a wet stretch of road rather than exercising due caution and then that person loses control of the vehicle. If this action, in turn, kills a bystander, that could be a case for manslaughter by culpable negligence. If you face this charge, know that it may be erroneous and depends on several circumstances that come together to validate this very serious charge.

On the other end of the spectrum is DUI manslaughter. This is a second-degree felony in which prosecutors only have to show simple negligence resulting in a fatality, and that breath or blood alcohol levels demonstrate impairment while the accused was driving.

Falling somewhere in between the strict and multi-point standards required to prove manslaughter by culpable negligence and the more basic DUI manslaughter is the charge of vehicular homicide. This is a third-degree felony and requires proof that recklessness attributed to the fatality or at least a willful lack of respect for safety for those who may be around you.

If you were driving a car and got in an accident that resulted in the death of another, it is important to understand what you are up against. A Florida criminal defense attorney knowledgeable in DUI and traffic offenses may be able to explain the charges against you and work with you to determine the best way to improve the outcome of your case.

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