West Palm Beach Dui Lawyer Explains – DUI and DUI’S with Severe Bodily Injury and the use of Special verdict forms.
Hiring a West Palm Beach DUI Attorney is an important decision, does your lawyer know how Apprehndi and enhancements contribute to increased sentences in Florida DUI’S?
Florida DUI law is an area of criminal law that requires experience and knowledge by the criminal lawyer you choose in order to get the best possible results. Under Florida DUI law and Florida DUI’S that causes Severe Bodily Injury, the lawyer you choose can mean the difference between prison and no jail time at all.
Under Florida Laws 316.193; the elements of DUI are: (1) a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle; (2) while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or other mind altering substances, like illegal drugs or prescription drugs, to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired or they have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.
To be convicted of DUI with Severe Bodily Injury the State must also prove the last element: (3) that the DUI crash caused or contributed to causing serious bodily injury to another person, as a result of operating the vehicle. See Fla. Gen. Stat. 316.193(1), (3) (a-c). The term “serious bodily injury” has been defined in Florida to mean any injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Florida law requires that the State of Florida, the prosecution, show beyond every reasonable doubt that a person was severely injury, due to the actions of a DUI driver. But more than this, during a DUI Severe Bodily Injury trial, the jury and not State of Florida or the Judge are required to find through special jury instructions the extent of injuries under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, (2000). Under Apprendi, a United States Supreme Court decision, the prosecution is required in most criminal cases to have a jury decide through a special verdict form, in crimes that enhance punishments like DUI with severe bodily injury that in fact the jury finds the injuries are severe to award an increase in the defendant’s sentence of 40 sentencing points under the Florida sentencing scoresheet.
Florida trial Judges cannot make an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines or score, if a jury finds guilt on a general verdict form of DUI with Severe Bodily Injuries. Florida law requires that a special verdict form must be used and considered by the “jury” for their consideration, deliberation and appropriately filled out, by the jury foreperson, before the injury points can be used to enhance the DUI with Severe Bodily Injury punishment during sentencing.
Experienced Florida DUI’S lawyers know this and should use it to their advantage when conducting their investigation of alleged DUI’S with Severe Bodily Injury. The investigation should include getting all of the medical records of the injured person, hiring a private investigator to provide footage on the actions of the alleged injured driver to see if their daily actions are in fact consistent with their complained injuries and to use the information during depositions to provide what pre-existing injuries and ailments the injured may have had prior to the accident.
Experience and knowledge of DUI law does not happen over a year or two. The experience and knowledge in handling DUI’S and DUI’S with Severe Bodily Injury occurs over a decade. When visiting a DUI lawyer, who you are considering hiring for your DUI, ask questions like the above article points out.
Ask what the defenses are afforded to the driver in the accusations of DUI and DUI causing Severe Bodily Injury. Ask what are the penalties if convicted? In the case of DUI with Severe Bodily Injury, the driver is facing a 3 Degree Felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in the Department of Corrections. Ask how many DUI’S trials the lawyer has conducted? Be proactive and do not be afraid to ask questions because your liberty is at stake.
West Palm Beach DUI lawyer, Andrew D. Stine, has handled all DUI’S from intake to trial, including DUI Homicide cases. Palm Beach DUI Attorney Andrew D. Stine can be reached at 561 832 1170 to be assisted and defended with your DUI. Hire Stine or Do The Time!
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