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How Reckless Boating Can Lead to a Homicide Charge in Georgia


Recreational boating is one of the most popular leisure activities here in Georgia. But it is important to remember that a boat, like any vehicle, must be operated in a safe manner. Georgia has “rules of the road” for boat traffic that are just as strict as those governing motor vehicles on the highway. And a person who recklessly violates those rules and causes a fatal boating accident may find themselves facing criminal charges of “homicide by vessel.”

Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction Following Fatal Boat Accident

Indeed, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently affirmed the conviction of a man convicted of second-degree homicide by vessel and several related charges arising from the death of a woman in 2019. On the day in question, the defendant and the victim visited Lake Allatoona. They took a jet ski out onto the lake. Although the lake was not especially busy, there was another group traveling in a rented ski boat.

The defendant and the victim launched their jet ski from a public boat ramp across from the local marina. There was then a collision between the defendant’s jet ski and the ski boat. The force of the collision ejected the defendant and the victim from the jet ski. Two witnesses pulled the victim out of the water. The defendant and another person then attempted to perform CPR. Unfortunately, the victim died from her injuries.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted an investigation. The occupants of the boat told investigators that they did not see the defendant’s jet ski prior to the collision, and that the jet ski hit the starboard side of their boat. For his part, the defendant told investigators that he “never saw the boat, and didn’t know where it came from.”

The investigators ultimately concluded that both the defendant and the person driving the boat were responsible for violating Georgia’s rules of the road for boating. The District Attorney charged both men with second degree homicide by vessel. The jury, however, found the defendant guilty while acquitting his co-defendant. The trial court then sentenced the defendant to 12 months in prison, although he would only have to serve 30 days.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Homicide by vessel can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor in Georgia. The case above was a misdemeanor second-degree prosecution, which meant the defendant could not be sentenced to more than 12 months in jail. Had this been a felony first-degree case, the trial court could have sent the defendant to prison for a term of between 3 and 15 years.

If you are facing any criminal charges following an accident, it is crucial that you seek out timely legal advice from a qualified Atlanta criminal defense attorney. In fact, you should never give any voluntary statement to law enforcement or another state agency without first speaking to counsel. Call Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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