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Culpable Negligence

Florida law provides that each resident and visitor of the Sunshine State has a duty to act reasonably toward other people. When a person is alleged to violate such duty, even without any conscious intention to harm another person, the violating act may be seen as culpable negligence.

Culpable negligence is a criminal offense that involves reckless or careless conduct that demonstrates a disregard for human life or general safety. Consequences of culpable negligence in reference to criminal law include fines, probation, imprisonment, or all of the above. However, the exact charges and penalties will vary depending on the severity of the case.

Attorney for Culpable Negligence in Tallahassee, FL

If you have been charged with a culpable negligence offense in Florida, contact a criminal defense attorney at Pumphrey Law Firm. Prosecutions under Florida’s culpable negligence laws can be extremely controversial since there is no required intention to commit any harm.

An aggressive prosecution requires an aggressive defense. Don Pumphrey and his team can help by discussing the facts and circumstances of your case. After reviewing the charges against you, our attorneys will strategize possible defenses to help you fight the case. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law will handle your case with the utmost importance, and they will fight to get the best possible result.

Pumphrey Law Firm is in Tallahassee, and represents clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including: Leon County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, Gadsden County and the surrounding areas. Call Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to receive a free consultation regarding your case.


Information About Culpable Negligence


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What is Culpable Negligence?

“Culpable Negligence” is a legal term used in criminal law to describe the type of behavior that is considered reckless or careless, but not necessarily intentional. In some jurisdictions, it goes further beyond mere negligence and can be considered a criminal offense.

When a person fails to exercise the reasonable care of caution expected of society and it results in a foreseeable and substantial risk of harm to others, they may be charged with culpable negligence. This can include actions such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, leaving a firearm in an accessible place for minors, or failing to prevent a dangerous activity.

Getting charged with culpable negligence in Florida can lead to varying penalties such as paying expensive fines, prison sentences, or both.

Penalties for Culpable Negligence

Under Florida Statute Section 784.05, a person charged with culpable negligence can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge.

  • Second-degree misdemeanor – A defendant who exposes another person to personal injury due to culpable negligence.
  • First-degree misdemeanor – A defendant who inflicts actual personal injury to another person due to culpable negligence.
  • Third-degree felony – A defendant who stores or leaves a loaded firearm within reach or within easy access of a minor.

In Florida, the penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include a fine up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include a fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. The penalties for a third-degree felony include a fine up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

Similar to a reckless driving offense, no actual harm is required to prosecute a defendant for culpable negligence. However, these cases can be difficult to prosecute, as the prosecutor must establish all required elements to prove the defendant’s state of mind in acting or failing to act.

Elements of Culpable Negligence in Florida

Culpable negligence requires showing more than the mere failure to use ordinary care for another.

To prove culpable negligence in a criminal case, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or showed a lack of disregard for the safety of others.

Under Florida Statute Section 784.05, the criminal offense of culpable negligence must be proven by the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant committed an act which either inflicted actual personal injury on the victim; or
  • The defendant exposed the victim to personal injury, even if no actual injury occurred; and
  • The exposure or cause of the victim’s injury was due to the defendant’s culpable negligence.

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Culpable Negligence vs. Civil Negligence

Culpable negligence is different from civil negligence, which is used in civil cases throughout Florida. In a Culpable negligence case, the prosecutor must show that there was a disregard for another person’s safety, rights, or welfare. This implies the defendant acted in a way that could have caused harm but disregarded the consequences. There does not have to be any intent to cause harm.

In civil cases, the plaintiff must show that a person did not act with reasonable care on behalf of others. If a person fails to act reasonably regarding a civil duty towards others, then civil liability may be imposed. Civil negligence does not require a showing of criminal intent or recklessness, just the simple failure to exercise reasonable care under the given circumstances.

If you are facing criminal charges for culpable negligence, it is in your best interest to reach out to a skilled defense attorney in your area.


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Other Culpable Negligent Crimes in Florida

The state of Florida has several criminal offenses which relate to claims of culpable negligence:

  • Child NeglectFlorida Statute Section 827.03 explains it is a third-degree felony for any person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. If the accused person’s culpable negligence results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child, then it is considered a second-degree felony.
  • Leaving a Firearm Within Reach of a ChildFlorida Statute Section 784.05 explains that any person who stores or leaves a loaded firearm within reach or easy access of a minor (person under the age of 16 in this case) commits a third-degree felony.
  • Neglect of a Disabled or Elderly PersonFlorida Statute Section 825.102 explains it is a third-degree felony for any person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects an elderly or disabled person without causing great bodily harm. If the accused person’s culpable negligence results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, then it is considered a second-degree felony.
  • Manslaughter by Culpable NegligenceFlorida Statute Section 782.07 explains it is a second-degree felony for the death of another person due to the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of the accused person.

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Culpable Negligence Resources

Florida’s Culpable Negligence Statute – Read the statutory language for Florida’s culpable negligence statute from Online Sunshine the official internet site of the Florida Legislature.

Culpable Negligence Definition – General definition of culpable negligence often used with manslaughter, driving prosecution including synonyms, related words, and antonyms.


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Finding A Culpable Negligence Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm represent men and women being prosecuted under Florida’s culpable negligence statute throughout the northern portion of the state. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for any negligent offense, your first step should be seeking out an experienced attorney. Pumphrey Law can help you get the best possible results in your case.

Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation with a Florida Panhandle criminal defense attorney.


This article was last updated on April 24, 2023.

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