Definition of Culpable Negligence

In Florida, Culpable Negligence is defined as a course of conduct showing a wanton or reckless disregard for human life and safety, and which causes injury or exposes another person to injury.

Proof at Trial

In Culpable Negligence prosecutions, the State must establish two factual elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant exposed a person to personal injury or inflicted personal injury on that person; and
  2. The defendant did so through conduct constituting “culpable negligence.”

Loaded Firearms

If the incident of Culpable Negligence involves a child gaining access to firearms (a third degree felony), the State must also show that the accused stored or left the loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of the minor.  See § 784.05(3).

Penalties for Culpable Negligence

The penalties available for Culpable Negligence in Florida depend on whether actual injury occurred, and whether the incident involved a minor gaining access to a loaded firearm.

Mere Exposure to Injury

Where the act of Culpable Negligence merely exposed another person to personal injury, the offense is classified as a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

Actual Injury

Where an actual personal injury occurs, Culpable Negligence is classified as a 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.  See § 784.05(2).

Injury from Loaded Firearm

Where the accused stores or leaves firearms within easy reach of a minor, and the child uses the firearm to inflict injury or death, then culpable negligence will be classified as third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Constitutionality Florida’s Culpable Negligence Statute

Although the term “culpable negligence” is highly subjective and poorly defined, the Florida Statute has survived multiple constitutional challenges brought on vagueness grounds. Sieniarecki v. State, 756 So. 2d 68 (Fla. 2000); State v. Greene, 348 So. 2d 3 (Fla. 1977).

Defenses to Culpable Negligence

In Florida, there are many defenses available to contest a charge of Culpable Negligence, including:

  • Factual disputes as to the accused’s conduct;
  • The accused’s conduct amounts to mere civil negligence, not ‘culpable’ negligence;
  • The victim’s own negligent actions were the primary cause of the incident;
  • Culpable actions were committed by another person;
  • Lack of evidence as to the nature of the accused’s conduct or degree of responsibility;
  • Extenuating circumstances justifying or excusing the accused’s conduct.

Contact an Attorney

If you have charged with Culpable Negligence in Jacksonville or the surrounding counties of Northeast Florida, contact Hussein & Webber, PL for a free consultation.