Under Florida Law, “Culpable Negligence” is a serious criminal that may be classified
as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of a case. Culpable negligence
is an offense that assigns criminal liability for gross acts of negligence that expose
others to harm or the threat of harm. If you have been the target of an investigation
or arrest for Culpable Negligence in Jacksonville, FL, call our Jacksonville Criminal
Attorney to discuss your case and legal options.
Although the term “negligence is typically used in the context of a civil lawsuit
(such as a personal injury action), negligence can also result in the filing of criminal
charges where an accused acts with a gross disregard for the safety and welfare of
How is Culpable Negligence Defined Under Florida Law?
As defined under Florida case law and the Florida Standard Jury Instructions, “Culpable
Negligence” is a course of conduct showing reckless disregard for human life, or
for the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want
of care as to raise a presumption of conscious indifference to consequences, or which
shows wantonness, recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and
welfare of others.
Under Section 784.05, Florida Statutes, the crime of Culpable Negligence consists
of two elements: (1) the accused exposed a person to personal injury or inflicted
personal injury on that person, and (2) the accused did so with “culpable negligence.”
If the incident of Culpable Negligence involves a child gaining access to firearms
(a third degree felony), it must also be shown that the accused stored or left the
loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of the minor.
What are the Penalties for Culpable Negligence in Florida?
Under Florida law, Culpable Negligence may be classified as second degree misdemeanor
(punishable by up to sixty days in jail), a first degree misdemeanor (punishable
by up to one year in jail), or a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years
imprisonment. Where the culpable acts of the accused merely “exposes” another to
a danger, the offense is a second degree misdemeanor. Where the accused’s actions
actually inflict personal injury, it is a first degree misdemeanor. Where the accused
stores or leaves firearms within easy reach of child, and the child uses the firearm
to inflict injury or death upon himself or herself or any other person, then, under
Florida law, culpable negligence will be classified as third degree felony.
How is Culpable Negligence Different From Regular Negligence?
Culpable negligence differs from conventional negligence (as used in Florida civil
cases) in the degree of disregard a person must exhibit for the safety, rights, or
welfare of others. In the civil context, negligence is established merely by showing
a breach of duty to exercise reasonable care on behalf of others. If a person fails
to act reasonably in regard to a duty they have towards others, then civil liability
may be imposed. With culpable negligence, the accused must not only act unreasonably
with respect to his or her duty, but he or she must also exhibit gross recklessness,
or wanton disregard for others.
Is Florida’s Culpable Negligence Statute Unconstitutionally Vague?
Although the term “culpable negligence” is highly subjective and poorly defined,
the Florida Statute has survived multiple constitutional challenges brought on vagueness
grounds. See Sieniarecki v. State, 756 So. 2d 68 (Fla. 2000); State v. Greene, 348
So. 2d 3 (Fla. 1977).
Are There Defenses in Florida to Culpable Negligence?