The corpus delicti consists of proof that a crime has been committed and that someone is criminally responsible for committing it. The corpus delicti has to be established in all DUI cases in Florida before the statements of an accused individual can be admitted into evidence at a trial.
In some cases, people who would almost certainly be found guilty of committing the crime of driving under the influence are not found guilty because the corpus delicti has not been proved. For example, in the case of Tina Esler versus the State of Florida, the appellate court deciding Ms. Esler's case ruled that her conviction for DUI causing serious bodily injury had to be reversed because the prosecutor failed to prove the corpus delicti before Esler's confession was admitted into evidence at her trial.
The facts of Esler's case are as follows:
"On November 2, 2003, in
Trooper Helen McCoy testified that on that same day, in
When Esler arrived at the scene of the
At trial, testimony was presented that a white Buick had knocked down a fence and hit a tree in
In deciding in Esler's favor, the appellate court stated:
1. There can be no conviction for DUI with serious bodily injury without proof that the defendant was driving a vehicle and was impaired at the time of the crash.
2. There must be proof independent of a confession that the defendant was driving the vehicle involved in the crash in order to make that determination.
3. The [prosecutor] failed to present the necessary independent proof that Esler was the driver of the vehicle involved in the Hillsborough County crash.
4. Therefore, Esler's conviction for DUI with serious bodily injury had to be reversed.
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