Eighteen Year Old Boy Receives 24 Year Sentence for DUI Manslaughter
A Broward County boy who was 17 at the time of the offense received a 24-year sentence in Broward County this week after pleading to the charge of DUI. Daniel Espinoza will be close to 40 by the time he is released (considering good time and gain time reductions). The incredibly harsh sentence followed pleas by the boy’s parents to show leniency. Circuit court Judge Gary Sweet, who presided over the matter, was not affected by the boy’s age, his lack of significant criminal history, or strong family connections. Based on my experience, a DUI manslaughter case paralleling the same facts and circumstances generally carries a maximum of a 10-year sentence in exchange for a plea of no contest, regardless of the person’s age. DUI manslaughter cases are never easy. It is almost impossible to avoid sympathizing with the victim’s family as well as the defendant’s family. The sentence for this individual, however, is simply outrageous. To state that this sentence is excessive would be an understatement. If I was counsel on this case I would already be preparing my motion for mitigation of sentence. Daniel Espinoza has accepted responsibility for his actions in pleading no contest to the charge. I am not disagreeing that he should be penalized. Two people were killed as a result of his drinking and driving and it is well understood that pleas to DUI homicides carry prison sentences. Nonetheless, 24 years for an 18 year old seems to shock the conscience.