Punishment Varies for a DUI Manslaughter Conviction
Though DUI manslaughter carries a minimum offense of four years within the state of Florida, a recent report by the Miami Herald examines the vast variations that often exist among sentences for this charge. Examples discussed in the article include:
- Kayla Mendoza is a 22-year-old who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the DUI manslaughter of two people. She infamously tweeted “2 Drunk 2 Care” only hours before the accident. According to reports, her license was also revoked.
- In a less publicized case, Edna Jean Pierre is a 27-year-old who was sentenced to four years in prison when she reportedly pled guilty to the killing of two individuals. The first was the result of a DUI manslaughter. While out on bail for the charge, she reportedly killed another victim during a hit-and-run incident.
- On the same day, in the same courthouse, 57-year-old Antonio Lawrence reportedly received a 10-year prison sentence for driving drunk into a restaurant and killing two people.
Each of these defendants was found guilty of DUI manslaughter, yet they each received substantially different penalties. The possible reasons for the variations are numerous, including:
- The judge’s individual stance on crime – Judges exercise considerable discretion when handing down a sentence. According to the Miami Herald report, geographic areas where judges are known to be tougher on crimes saw stiffer punishments.
- The defendant’s criminal history or lack thereof – The criminal history of the defendant comes into play when the judge is setting a sentence. Generally, those with a less serious criminal history receive more lenient sentences.
- The circumstances surrounding the accident – Kayla Mendoza’s tweet before the accident may have contributed to the harshness of her sentence. Courts tend to look at what was happening around the time of the incident when making a sentencing determination.
- Input from the victim’s family – When victims ask for stiffer sentences, the court often takes their wishes into consideration.
Another important factor in the sentencing of DUI manslaughter cases is the skill of the attorney defending the case. An experienced attorney knows how to mitigate the facts and circumstances, placing the defendant in the optimal position for a lighter sentence. This is why it’s vitally important to secure the services of a knowledgeable attorney immediately when charged with DUI manslaughter.
Florida DUI Manslaughter Laws
In the state of Florida, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered intoxicated. The level decreases to 0.04 for commercial drivers. DUI manslaughter is a second degree felony under Florida law. As stated, a conviction carries a minimum sentence of four years and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A conviction also means the permanent revocation of your Florida driver’s license.
The effects of a DUI-manslaughter conviction can prove devastating. Possible incarceration, along with the loss of your driving privileges, can place your livelihood and reputation in danger.
If you are facing DUI charges within the state of Florida, contact Julia Kefalinos today for immediate assistance with your case. Attorney Kefalinos has significant experience representing clients in Miami, and can provide you with a quality defense.