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Culpable Negligence in Florida

Culpable negligence is punishable under Florida Statute Section 784.05, F.S., as a second or first-degree misdemeanor, depending on whether actual personal injury results. Culpable negligence involves more than a failure to use ordinary care for others.

Instead, culpable negligence is committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others or involves a person consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the person must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

If a person exposes another person to personal injury through culpable negligence, then the person can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The second-degree version of culpable negligence is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and imprisonment not exceeding 60 days. See Section 784.05(1), F.S.

If a person inflicts actual personal injury on another person through culpable negligence, then the crime can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. The first-degree misdemeanor version of culpable negligence is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 and imprisonment not exceeding one year. See Section 784.05(2), F.S.

In some circumstances, the crime of culpable negligence can be charged as a third-degree felony. In other circumstances, such as child neglect causing great bodily injury, culpable negligence can be charged as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison. 

If a culpable negligence offense results in actual injury or death, such offense may be considered a lesser included offense for murder, manslaughter or vehicular homicide under specific circumstances. See Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, Fourth Edition.


Types of Culpable Negligence Crimes in Florida

Florida law provides for several different types of culpable negligence crimes including: 

  • Child Neglect - A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the second degree.
  • Child Neglect - A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree.
  • Neglect of a Disabled or Elderly Person - Under Florida law, the crime of neglect of a disabled or elderly person can be charged as a second degree felony, if the acts willfully or by culpable negligence and neglects a disabled adult or elderly person and in so doing causes permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or great bodily harm to the elderly person or disabled adult.
  • Neglect of a Disabled or Elderly Person - Under Florida law, the crime of neglect of a disable or elderly person can be charged as a third degree felony, if the person acts with either culpable negligence or willfully to neglect a disabled adult or elderly person without causing permanent disfigurement, permanent disability or great bodily harm to the elderly person or disabled adult; and 
  • Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence - the culpable conduct necessary to sustain proof of manslaughter under section 782.07 is conduct of “a gross and flagrant character, evincing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or there is that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard of the safety and welfare of the public, or that reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them.” See McCreary v. State, 371 So.2d 1024, 1026 (Fla.1979).

Purpose of the Culpable Negligence Statute in Florida

According to the Florida Supreme Court in State v. Greene, 348 So.2d 3 (1977), the purpose of the culpable negligence statute, is to punish behavior creating an “unreasonably great risk of harm to others.” Id. The Florida Supreme Court defined culpable negligence as conduct showing reckless disregard for human life, or for the safety of other persons, or conduct showing an entire lack of care which raises a presumption of indifference to the consequences. Id. at 4.


Finding an Attorney for Culpable Negligence Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with culpable negligence charged as either a second-degree misdemeanor, a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

With offices in downtown Tampa, FL, our attorneys fight crimes involving culpable negligence in the courthouses in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, Lakeland and Bartow in Polk County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.