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What are the 'elements of the crime' of Reckless operation of vessel'. What are the jury instructions?

Largo, FL |

What are the 'elements of the crime' of Reckless operation of vessel'. What are the jury instructions?

327.33(1) States in part; [A person is guilty if they operate with] willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger, life or limb, or damage the property of, or injure any person. It seems to me this statutes leans towards a requirement of 'intent'. Is this in fact the case?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

You can find most common jury instructions on the Florida Supreme Court website.

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Posted

Here is the statute. It includes all the elements. http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/327.33
www.colleenglenn.com

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

It seems like an expert witness could be very valuable to someone charged with this crime. Any thoughts or opinions on whether, or not expert testimony would be allowed? It is very possible, I would think, to end up with a jury that has no real experience or knowledge that would assist them in making decisions regarding the following; Did the act or acts that the defendant committed constitute willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property? On the day in question, given the set of circumstances which were in place on said day, did the defendant operate his vessel at a speed, or a manner that endangered, or was likely to endanger persons or property? Essentialy 'what constitutes a manner which is dangerous' (in this case)? A juror, or jurors that may have never operated a vessel which is in any way similar to the vessel the defendant was operating that day, may not have any idea what is a dangerous, or reckless manner in which to operate such a vessel, agreed? Also, an expert witness could possibly attest to the fact that a dangerous manner, or act committed by a beginner, may not be a dangerous act for someone who has had many, many years of experience, correct?

Colleen M. Glenn

Colleen M. Glenn

Posted

I agree an expert would be very beneficial to this case. However be advised that you would have to pay for the expert and they would have to be qualified by the court to testify as such.

Posted

Each element must be proven by the state, beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt. Look at the elements in either the statute or the jury instructions and determine where all of the reasonable doubt lies. A reasonable doubt can arise from the evidence itself, a lack of evidence, or a conflict in the evidence.

R. Jason de Groot, Esq., 386-337-8239

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Posted

The statute is honestly pretty vague and there is no standard jury instruction. It will honestly require a bit of wrangling between the State Attorney and the Defense Attorney to arrive at a mutually agreeable Jury Instruction. Much of it may depend on the specifics of your case. What are they alleging that you did exactly? (Do not post the answer here, send me an email). You're looking at a first degree misdemeanor. It's a serious enough criminal offense punishable by up to a year in jail, probation, and fines. You'd be better off hiring a criminal defense trial attorney and fighting back aggressively if you don't feel you did anything wrong. No sense in agreeing to a plea if you're not guilty.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

The two words in the statute that keeps coming to mind are 'willful' and 'wanton'. Before looking it up, I vaguely knew what people meant when they used the word 'wanton'. The definition I found for 'wanton' is; Adjective (of a cruel or violent action) Deliberate and unprovoked. You mentioned that jury instructions may require wrangling between the defense and prosecution. Would it be appropriate, or a good idea to file a motion to have a hearing for the purpose of defining jury instructions? Do you think an argument could successfully be made that a jury instruction be included that requires the defendant to 'have intent'? Possibly have actual intent to put someone in danger, or intent to TRY to put someone in danger?

Asker

Posted

For a defendant who intended to take a 'reckless' charge to trial, at what point would it be prudent to endeavor to negotiate jury instructions with the prosecution? Personally, I would like to have perfect clarity regarding the jury instructions ASAP. This, in large part, will determine whether or not I can win at trial, so for this reason, it will be good to know all about what the jury instructions will be right in the beginning. Agreed?

Majid Vasigh

Majid Vasigh

Posted

Not a bad idea, but I don't see a judge (in Pinellas County anyway) letting that much slide. I suppose I could do a bunch of research into the issue to find out if there's any authority on point, but not for free :)... at the end of the day though, I would need to know more about your case. It could be that you just made a mistake or a misjudgment or that you're an amateur or that you were forced to make the maneuver because you believed it to be the most prudent course of action (using a justification or excuse affirmative defense). It sounds like you're a smart guy so being a smart guy, you have to understand that unless you hire an attorney to build your defense and put pressure on the state directly, none of these very intelligent arguments will get you anywhere because the state won't listen to you until they are forced to that day of trial.

Majid Vasigh

Majid Vasigh

Posted

Yes, but that's not the first step. The first step is to investigate the case by reviewing discovery and interviewing witnesses.

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