What you do after a Florida DUI charge matters. At sentencing, judges have significant discretion in choosing the punishment that best fits the crime. The actions you take - and the DUI defense lawyer you choose - can go a long way toward generating a favorable outcome.
Take, for example, a case that recently played out in Brevard County court. The defendant in that case had pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and other charges stemming from a 2010 drunk driving crash that put a Titusville woman in a coma and ultimately killed her. After the accident, the defendant fled the scene and was later apprehended at a local pawnshop. His blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest was 0.10.
Under Florida law, the crime of DUI manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The prosecutor in this case argued that the state sentencing guidelines recommend a 10-year prison term for this particular situation.
The judge disagreed. After reviewing the facts of the case, he decided to sentence the 20-year-old defendant to one year in jail and 15 years of probation.
In support of his decision, the judge pointed to the fact that the defendant's crime was a one-time occurrence for which he had shown honest and genuine remorse. Indeed, the first thing the defendant did after being released on bond was to ask how the accident victim, who was at that point still in a coma, was doing.
Florida DUI Penalties
A lot of attention gets paid to the maximum sentences for Florida drunk driving offenses. The truth, though, is that the ultimate punishment is different in nearly every case.
The sentence a defendant receives can depend on a number of different factors including the circumstances of the crime, any prior offenses and whether the defendant has shown remorse or attempted to make positive changes to his or her life.
After being charged with a DUI in Florida, it's important to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can tell your story and make sure you are treated fairly.