Florida’s 4th DCA Certifies Question to Florida Supreme Court: Whether State Must Prove Actual Knowledge of Crash Under Fla. Stat. 316.027

by appealattorneylaw

The week’s flown by, but I wanted to mention quickly that in Zacariah Dorsett v. State, No. 4D11-1530, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal has reversed a conviction for Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Injury, and certified a question of great public importance: “In a prosecution for violation of section 316.027, Florida Statutes (2006), should the standard jury instruction require actual knowledge of the crash?”

Dorsett was charged with Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Injury after Dorsett struck a teenager who fell from his skateboard.  Unfortunately for both Dorsett and the teen, Dorsett dragged the teen an unstated distance along the road before being stopped by police.  At trial, although several witnesses testified as to their views of the accident, Dorsett testified that he was unaware of the crash.  The trial court rejected Dorsett’s request for a special jury instruction.  On appeal, although the 4th DCA did not fault the trial court for instructing the jury according to the standard instructions, the court reversed, and requested the Florida Supreme Court to specifically “focus on the knowledge requirement as it relates to the accident itself,” in light of a prior decision, State v. Mancuso, 652 So. 2d 370 (Fla. 1995).

Although Dorsett’s conviction has been reversed, the litigation may not be over just yet.  Florida’s criminal defense attorneys and criminal appeals attorneys will have to stay tuned to see if the Florida Supreme Court decides to accept jurisdiction.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the teen, now 21 years old, has survived the accident, but requires constant attention from a caregiver.