According to reports, the accused was a van driver for the day care center. After picking up the 22-month old child, as well as other children, the accused drove the van to the day care center but forgot to take the 22-month old child out of his car seat. The child allegedly remained inside of the hot van where he died. Upon finding him dead several hours later, the accused allegedly removed the child's body and set it down on a concrete slab near the day care center. The accused then apparently told others that he didn't know where the child was and pretended to search for him. That is where the tampering with physical evidence charge comes in.
Manslaughter, without a firearm, is normally a second-degree felony. However, when a firearm is used or a person under the age of 18 is killed, the charge becomes aggravated manslaughter and is now a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Tampering with physical evidence is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Manslaughter does not require a showing of intent. Manslaughter is defined under Florida law as, "the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification..."
The State Attorney's Office has alleged that the day care center driver acted so negligently that he can be criminally responsible for the child's death.
Manslaughter charges require a good criminal defense attorney to help draw a line between criminal negligent and an unfortunate accident. You cannot be convicted for a simple accident or act of forgetfulness unless it rises to the level of criminal negligence. Most manslaughter cases go to trial because of that very question.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense lawyer serving Miami-Dade and Broward. Call to discuss your case.