Does Florida Have a Law Regarding Failure to Render Aid?

In recent news, five Florida teenagers recorded a man drowning to death in a pond, according to CNN. They used a phone to capture his death on Facebook live, and could be heard laughing about it and jeering him as he bobbed in the water, struggling for air.

No Florida Statute for Failure to Render Aid, Except in Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions

Surprisingly, Florida does not have a statute that requires a person to render aid to another if they happen upon said person struggling for their life. This is why the state attorney prosecutor will likely charge the laughing teenagers with a first degree misdemeanor under statute 406.12, as opposed to a more serious charge. However, if you are involved in a traffic collision, you are required to stop and render aid under statute 316.012. If you are involved in a traffic collision, it is your duty to:

  • Provide your name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to any other person injured in the crash or a police officer; and
  • Render reasonable assistance to any injured person, including carrying (transporting) or making arrangements for that person to be taken to a hospital.

It is a First Degree Misdemeanor in Florida to Not Report a Dead Body or Move a Dead Body with Intent Alter an Investigation

According to the state attorney’s office, “We were asked to make a preliminary review of the video regarding any potential charges for failure to provide aid. Unfortunately, there is currently no statute in Florida law that compels an individual to render, request or seek aid for a person in distress. We are, however, continuing to research whether any other statute may apply to the facts of this case.” The teenage boys ranged in age from 14 to 16 years old, and the Cocoa Police Chief, Michael Cantaloupe, said that he would recommend that they be charged under statute 406.12, failing to report the death of another, in the absence of a statute that requires a citizen to render aid to another in distress.

Under statute 406.12, it is the duty of any person who becomes aware of a death to report the death and circumstances forthwith to the district medical examiner. By knowingly failing to report a death, the defendant may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum fine of $1,000 and 12 months in jail. Other violations of this statute include:

  • Refusing to give medical or pertinent information about the death to an investigator;
  • Without permission, willfully touching, removing, or disturbing the body, clothing, or an article on or near the body with an intent to alter the evidence.

Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today for Assistance

Whether you were involved in a traffic collision and failed to stop and render aid (a hit and run), or you failed to report a dead body or moved a dead body, you need legal assistance at once. Contact the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys of the Skier Law Firm today.

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