DUI Manslaughter | Double Jeopardy?
The Supreme Court of Florida is faced with a certified question “of great public importance” from the Fourth District regarding the decision of Bautista v. State:
“DOES THE “A/ANY” TEST ADOPTED IN GRAPPIN V. STATE AND STATE V. WATTS AS THE METHOD FOR DETERMINING THE UNIT OF PROSECUTION FOR THE COMMISSION OF MULTIPLE PROSCRIBED ACTS IN THE COURSE OF A SINGLE EPISODE, PRECLUDE MULTIPLE CONVICTIONS FOR DUI MANSLAUGHTER WHERE MORE THAN ONE DEATH OCCURS IN A SINGLE ACCIDENT AS APPROVED IN MELBOURNE V. STATE?”
Background: Bautista v. State
David Bautista was driving while intoxicated (under the influence of alcohol) when his motor vehicle crashed into another car, resulting in the death of both individuals that were in that car. In trial, Bautista was convicted of two counts of DUI manslaughter. Mr. Bautista appealed, claiming the Florida statute does not allow multiple convictions of DUI manslaughter stemming from one single incident of DUI. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions, citing Melbourne v. State, which held that multiple convictions from a single DUI did not violate the principles of double jeopardy.
What is DUI Manslaughter?
Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes defines DUI Manslaughter as:
” Any person:
(a) Who is in violation of subsection (1) [driving under the influence];
(b) Who operates a vehicle; and
(c) Who, by reason of such operation, causes or contributes to causing:
3. The death of any human being commits DUI manslaughter “
Florida Supreme Court Decision
The Florida Supreme Court approved the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In their response, The Florida Supreme Court applied the “common-sense” approach in interpreting the Statute, and determined that the Florida legislature “clearly intended to permit multiple convictions based on multiple deaths arising from a single DUI incident.” Although it may only be a single episode of DUI, DUI manslaughter is considered a type of homicide offense; therefore, each death involved in a DUI accident is considered a crime of its own.
If you have been charged with a DUI related offense , an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative. Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. aggressively handles all State and Federal criminal charges. Contact our law firm to discuss your situation. Our Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney will strategically develop a defense designed personally for you and your situation.