Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide, Florida’s most serious criminal driving offense, is set forth in Florida Statute 782.071. In general, this charge involves the killing of another person or of a viable fetus by injury to the mother caused by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Vehicular homicide is the most serious driving offense under Florida law and as such the penalties involved are severe. If convicted, jail or prison time is almost guaranteed and there will be no concessions made by the Prosecutor or Judge. Jason Mayberry has the experience and know how necessary to defend you against this charge. Our Tampa criminal lawyers will dissect your case and attack the issue difficult to prove mental state element the State must prove. We will take the steps necessary, including employing engineers to reconstruct the accident to show that despite a tragic death occurring, your actions were not the causation for that death. We know how to attack these charges and we will employ that knowledge in all phases of your case.


To prove this allegation, the State Attorney must prove more than a failure to use ordinary care. The following three elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The alleged victim is dead.

  2. The death was caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by you.

  3. You operated the motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of or great bodily harm to another person.

Keep in mind that the State Attorney does not have to prove intent to harm or injure the victim or any other person as “intent” is not an element of this crime.


At its base level, vehicular homicide is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. This charge becomes a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if at the time of the accident you knew or should have known that the accident occurred and you failed to give your information at the scene or render aid to the victim.


It is important to know that like a DUI manslaughter or a civil negligence auto case, the State Attorney must prove that you caused the death of another by your driving. If you were driving recklessly but you did not cause the victim’s death, causation would not be present and therefor a jury, assuming they make the right decision, should acquit you at trial. Causation must be present to sustain a conviction.

The State Attorney must make a showing that you operated your vehicle in a reckless fashion. Florida courts have held that in order to sustain a conviction, the State must be able to prove the elements of a reckless driving. W.E.B. v. State 553 So.2d 323 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989). This means the State Attorney must show that your mental state while driving was one of a wanton disregard for the safety of others, indifferent to consequences or harm to another you know is going to occur as a result. This goes beyond simple negligence. In essence, unless the State can show you were a maniac driving or that you were impaired in order to make a DUI Manslaughter case, you have a great defense to a vehicular homicide charge.


The criminal attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm are not intimidated by the seriousness of this charge. Despite the tragic nature of this charge in order for justice to be served it is imperative that all the facts are presented to prove your innocence. Just as these are not easy charges to prove, due to the emotional nature of the allegation they are difficult to defend. Our attorneys are prepared to take on this task for you. If you’re in need of a criminal lawyer, contact our firm today at 813-444-7435 or submit an email online and we will respond to your request instantly.