Every once in awhile, I like to chime in on a criminal case that has caught the attention of the media nationwide. Today’s question is this: Did Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth receive any special treatment in the handling of his recent DUI Manslaughter case in Miami, Florida?
For more information on this story, you can check out this article from the Miami Herald: Donte’ Stallworth gets a month in jail for DUI Death.
Dozens of DUI Manslaughter and traffic-related homicides are being handled. In most cases, the Defendant received a prison sentence of anywhere from ten (10) to fifteen (15) years (depending on the specific facts of each case as well as the Defendant’s prior criminal record). Looking back on my six (6) years with the State Attorney’s Office in Clearwater, it’s difficult to recall a DUI Manslaughter case with a similar sentence.
Therefore, we all need to ask ourselves these questions: “Why did this individual (Donte’ Stallworth) receive such a lenient sentence?” and “Was his celebrity status influential in obtaining this favorable plea offer?”
Like many other Crimes of Violence, the ultimate resolution of a DUI Manslaughter case can be driven by the victim and/or victim’s family or next-of-kin. In this case, the family of the deceased man that was running across the street to catch a bus made a specific request that the State Attorney’s Office resolve the criminal case quickly so that the entire family could get some closure.
However, the State of Florida had a very strong case against Stallworth. Stallworth’s blood-alcohol level after the crash was a .126, well above the legal limit of .08 in the State of Florida. Stallworth admitted to driving and flashing his lights, while driving in his black 2005 Bentley, at 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.
As for a defense, 59-year old construction crane operator Mario Reyes was not in a crosswalk when he tried to cross the busy MacArthur Causeway in Miami. However, the State doesn’t need to prove that Stallworth “caused” the acccident. The State only needs to prove that Stallworth’s drinking and driving “contributed” to the accident — an issue that would be very difficult to rebut based on the evidence that has been made public.
While Donte’ Stallworth was the recepient of a very lenient plea bargain and sentence, most people are not that lucky. The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., in Clearwater, aggressively defends those accused of Criminal Traffic Violations and has experience handling the most complicated and serious traffic offenses such as DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death, Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury and DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury.
To view a short video with commentary on this case, check out the following from Newsy.com:
If your Traffic Offense requires an aggressive, experienced and affordable representation, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will be there for you – throughout the State of Florida – 365/24/7. Please contact us at 727.286.6141.