In the State of Florida, accidental killing can refer to an event where someone is unintentionally killed or sustains significant injuries leading to their death as a direct result of the actions of another.
Florida Statutes provide strict guidelines for determining whether an accidental killing should or should not be punishable by criminal charges. For instance, Florida Statutes 782.07 describe manslaughter as a second degree felony charge used to prosecute individuals whose illegal or culpably negligent actions lead to the death of another.
During the course of a manslaughter trial, the prosecution will typically attempt to prove how the actions of the defendant were illegal, negligent or inexcusable in some way. The defendant will typically attempt to argue why circumstances made the accidental killing a tragedy, but not one that the defendant should be criminally convicted for.
For instance, if a person was discharging their weapon in self-defense and one of their stray bullets accidentally killed someone else, then that person may face criminal charges of manslaughter for that accidental killing. The defendant may argue how the decisions made were acceptable given the circumstances, while the prosecution may argue that the defendant’s actions were inexcusably dangerous, negligent or amounted to an unlawful act.
Accidental killing incidents can also involve a separate civil case for the wrongful death of the individual. Florida’s wrongful death statutes (F.S. 768.16-768.26) provide that if the victim’s survivors or estate can prove the defendant’s culpable negligence, the defendant may be ordered to pay damages to the plaintiff.