Anyone facing a charge of vehicular homicide should understand how the law defines the crime and know what to expect when building a defense. In general, this charge is for causing the death of another person in a car accident.
According to the Florida Statutes, vehicular homicide may be a first- or second-degree felony. To prove someone guilty of this crime, the prosecutor must show that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner that was likely to lead to an accident. The prosecutor also must show that the person was aware of the accident and failed to provide any help to others who were in the accident.
The death in the incident may be any human being, which includes an unborn child. Generally, this applies when the mother suffers injuries that lead to the death of the baby.
Vehicular homicide is a criminal charge that can result in punishment such as prison time. However, the law also allows for a civil charge in which the family of the victim can sue the responsible party for wrongful death. In that type of case, the person may have to pay monetary damages.
These are two separate charges, so they do not violate double jeopardy laws. In addition, even if the courts find a person not guilty of the vehicular homicide case, a civil case may still take place that the person could lose.
Most often, because this charge is a felony of either the first or second degree, the person will receive a prison term. The law also allows the judge to require the person to serve community service of up to 120 hours in a trauma center where victims from car accidents receive treatment. As with any criminal charge, the person will also pay fines and fees associated with the court costs and as a penalty for the crime.