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Reckless Driving, Standing Your Ground by Accident.

Reckless Driving, not to be confused with careless driving, is a criminal traffic offense in Florida. An accusation of Reckless Driving does not require a crash, but property damage does enhance the offense. In a recent case, an attempt at defending a charge of Reckless Driving was made via a motion for immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.

The Defendant was the only person allowed to testify (the appeal court did not like that). The Defendant in the case claimed that the alleged victim shot at the Defendant as they were driving. The Defendant then followed the alleged victim, to obtain the license plate to give to 911 and he called 911. The Defendant claimed the alleged victim was shooting while the Defendant followed the alleged victim. Then the alleged victim stopped suddenly and swerved; the Defendant testified that he was unable to avoid the collision and it was an accident. Other than the fact a crash occurred there did not seem to be other evidence of recklessness, but that defense lawyer sought a dismissal based upon a lawful use of force.

The Court ruled that a person cannot claim immunity under the Stand Your Ground law when the force was used by accident or unintentionally. The law states that "a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony." The Court held that this defendant did not reasonably believe the force was necessary because the force was inflicted unintentionally. Furthermore, the Court pointed out that the following of the alleged victim by the Defendant to obtain the tag information, was not done to protect the Defendant and increased the risk to the Defendant.

While this attempt failed, each case involving either Reckless Driving or a self-defense immunity claim under Stand Your Ground depends on the specific facts of each case. As this example shows, opinions can always differ on whether conduct was appropriate. Do not face the government alone. Please fill out the form, click or call to hire a lawyer.

ยง 776.032 and 776.012

Hart v. State (5th Circuit)

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