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Is a Car Considered a Deadly Weapon in the State of Florida?

The Florida Supreme Court may have to decide in the near future whether a car is considered a deadly weapon when used to harm or kill someone in the state of Florida. The lower appellate courts in the state are divided on this issue, forcing the state's Supreme Court to become the deciding factor.

A Car Used as a Murder Weapon

It may seem as though it is obvious that if a car is used in a crime that it could be considered a deadly weapon, but the law has not always made it clear. In cases where there is a murder by use of car, and a clear premeditation and intention existed on behalf of the driver, there is no grey area in awarding the title of deadly weapon to a vehicle. However, it is often difficult to prove that there was premeditation and intention, and it is up to the state to do so.

Deadly Weapon Distinction

The distinction of an object being considered a deadly weapon is significant because it can add up to 15 years to a prison sentence if someone is convicted of using one in a crime.

Some may argue that just because a car is used primarily as a mode of transportation does not mean that it cannot be used inappropriately in a way to kill. One appellate court that has argued that a car can be considered a deadly weapon has used the American Heritage College Dictionary's 1993 alternate definition of a weapon, which is a "means used to defend against or defeat another."

Another appeals court ruled against a felon convicted of attempted manslaughter for trying to use a car as a battering ram against an officer. The argument being that a car is not commonly used as a combat weapon, but it could be.

Florida Supreme Court Precedent

In 2004, the Florida Supreme Court found that "an automobile is not commonly understood to be an instrument for combat against another person," which is the precedent that some appeals courts are using when determining whether a car is considered a weapon in certain cases.

One appeals court in the state argued that a car could not be considered a deadly weapon in a case where a man ran over a woman three times after they left a bar. This distinction means that the man's 30-year manslaughter sentence was cut in half.

If you are accused of a crime where a car was involved, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you determine the best defense for your case.

References:

Freeman, M. (2017, December 08). Is your car a deadly weapon? Dispute in criminal cases headed to Florida Supreme Court. Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-car-as-weapon-supreme-court-20171207-story.html

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