Street Race Leads To Vehicular Homicide Charges In Pompano Beach
In early October, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office charged Allexie Gavaskar Powell, 33, with the vehicular homicide of Richard Schmid, 56, after a fatal accident in August 2019. Powell also faces charges for reckless driving and participating in an unlawful race (also known as street racing), all of which can lead to significant jail time if he is convicted. Street racing is illegal due to its high likelihood of harming innocents; if you are ever charged with participation in a street race – or any of the crimes that can be charged if your attention wavers – you need a dedicated attorney on your side as soon as possible.
Sentences Are Stiff
In most instances, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle “in a reckless manner” that is likely to cause great bodily harm or death to another person. However, it is possible for Florida prosecutors to charge aggravated vehicular homicide, which happens in hit-and-run cases – aggravated vehicular homicide is a first-degree felony, which carries a sentence of 30 years in prison, plus $10,000 in fines. In addition, a conviction will result in a license suspension of at least three years.
It is possible in some cases to negotiate a lesser sentence for a standard vehicular homicide, depending on factors like whether or not you have a past criminal record and whether you are eligible for alternative sentences like work-release programs. However, in this case, Powell has a past driving record that includes double-digit numbers of tickets across South Florida, so any alternative sentence is unlikely.
Street Racing Is A Separate Crime
The only requirements for a prosecutor to establish a case for vehicular homicide are to show that the vehicle was driven “in a reckless manner,” and that the reckless driving was “likely to cause” great bodily harm or death. Street racing, also known as participating in an unlawful race, is a separate crime that does not have to be present for a finding of vehicular homicide. However, it can be an aggravating factor, as it might be in the case of Powell and Schmid, should the prosecutor choose to pursue the issue. Street racing is a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and 1 year probation.
In this case, street racing may be relevant because it is negligent per se; it is breaking a law designed to protect a specific class of people, and injuring one of that specific class. Negligence does not establish guilt in criminal court, but it is a persuasive factor that may help establish the “recklessness” necessary for vehicular homicide. Each case is different, and it remains to be seen what Powell may be convicted of, but it is important to keep in mind that each potential offense can help bolster the case for another.
Contact A West Palm Beach Vehicular Homicide Attorney
Vehicular homicide is a crime born of recklessness, and as such, it is tried very aggressively. If you have been charged with vehicular homicide, it is incumbent on you to seek out an experienced West Palm Beach vehicular manslaughter attorney at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. as soon as possible. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.