Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent was convicted earlier this week of intoxication manslaughter with the victim being one of his teammates, 25 year old Jerry Brown. Now, under Texas law, he faces up to twenty years in prison. The facts presented at trial stated that Brent left a club, flipped his Mercedes at 110 mph, killing Brown, and had a blood alcohol level of .189 which is more than twice the legal limit under Texas Law. According to Reuters, Brent had a previous DUI arrest in 2009 during his college football years at the University of Illinois. Brent also tested positive for drugs while out of jail on bond previous to his trial
DUI Manslaughter under Florida Law
DUI manslaughter in Florida is a second degree felony with a maximum punishment of 15 years. A defendant, with no prior criminal history whatsoever, still scores, under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, just over 12 years in the state prison system. Florida Law also mandates that the first four years served are served as a “minimum mandatory” which means the convicted driver would earn no gain time on the initial four years as those years would be done “day for day.” Typically, without the minimum mandatory, Florida inmates will do 85% of their sentence. A person in this position is immediately facing 12 years out of a maximum of 15 years. If the driver seriously injures another that is a 3rd degree Felony where the score is 51 months out of a possible 60 months.
To convict the State Attorney has to prove:
the driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle
the driver’s blood alcohol level was over .08 or, the driver was on drugs to the extent that her normal faculties were impaired and, by operating the vehicle while impaired, caused or contributed to the death of another
Additionally, if a death has resulted or is probable, these cases usually involve “blood draw” of the accused instead of the customary breath test performed at the jail. The investigating officer produces a blood draw kit and blood is drawn. This is usually done at the hospital but can be done at the crime scene by paramedics. Blood draw results take months. If the the results come back over a .08 the driver will be arrested at that time, 3-4 months later, on a warrant.
Nobody “plans” on getting a DUI
Most DUI’s involve a average citizen just trying to get home after a party, sporting event or just being out with friends. Nobody plans on getting arrested for DUI. Certainly nobody plans on getting a DUI where they have killed someone. The difference, as explained by one Duval County Judge, “is just pure luck.” First offender dui sentences in Florida are usually probationary where the driver loses his license for six months, pays a fine, attends a class and performs 50 hours of community service. If that same driver had crashed and killed someone, he is facing state prison time. Even if he is a good guy. Even if he has no record. Even if the victim’s family will testify at sentencing that they want nothing to happen to him.
Sentencing hearings in DUI cases are extremely emotional. One family has their relative heading to prison. One family is there, seated across the aisle in the courtroom, because the defendant killed their relative. Many times,as in the case of Josh Brent, the driver kills one of their best friends. Girlfriends have killed their boyfriends, wives have killed husbands, husbands have killed their children and strangers have killed strangers. Many times, after a night out partying, a person decides to drive because he or she is the “least drunk” and the crash kills the passed-out girlfriend or boyfriend.
Mitigators vs. Aggravators
Our NFL player has potential problems at sentencing. The speed of the car was 110mph. His blood alcohol was .189. He had a prior arrest for DUI in 2009. The victim’s family here is asking for leniency, as is common, because usually the departed and the driver were friends.
Are you facing a potential DUI manslaughter charge in Florida?
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter or DUI with serious bodily injury or you are in the time period awaiting the results of a blood draw by law enforcement, you need to retain the counsel of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney immediately.
The Forbess Law Firm is a dedicated Jacksonville criminal defense firm that has the dedication you need to aggressively fight any criminal charge. No matter how serious the charge, there is always some good that can be done and there is always hope. Click here to contact the Forbess Law Firm online, or call 904-634-0900 to schedule a free consultation.
Former Cowboy Josh Brent found guilty of intoxication manslaughter, USA Today
January 22, 2014