TV dramas and law-related shows seem to always explore a criminal’s motive or intent. “Why” a criminal committed a certain crime not only makes for a good storyline but can be critical in convicting an individual of a crime. For most crimes, the person charged (the “defendant”) must have committed the criminal act with a certain level of knowledge or intention. In other words, if a defendant committed a criminal act such as injuring another person (called the actus reus) but did so accidentally or without knowing what he or she was doing, that defendant cannot be held criminally responsible.
But there are a few crimes which require little more than gross carelessness on the part of the defendant in order for a person to be criminally responsible. Those who are charged with a crime of criminal negligence are in need of experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel.
What is – and What is Not – Criminal Negligence?
Under the law, a person who either does any act or fails to do an act that he or she is otherwise legally obligated to do in a manner that shows “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons” has acted in a criminally negligent manner. This is more than simple carelessness or clumsiness – the defendant must have acted in such a way that he or she knew or should have known a particular course of action could have resulted in harm to another, but chose to do so anyway.
For instance, suppose that two teens decide to street race. Street racing is a dangerous activity that individuals should know can result in injury or death to another. If a bystander, another driver, or one of the racers themselves becomes injured or is killed, one or both drivers can be held criminally responsible. This is true even if neither driver intended for anyone to be hurt. Because they should have known of the dangers presented by street racing and chose to street race anyway, they can be found to have acted with criminal negligence.
I’ve Been Accused of Criminal Negligence – Is All Hope Lost?
Some individuals charged with an offense based on criminal negligence may feel like there is little hope for success in their case. They may feel pressured to accept the government’s plea offer. However, it is possible to be found not guilty of a criminal offense, even if you are accused of acting in a criminally negligent manner. This requires a careful and thorough analysis of your case by an experienced Vancouver criminal defense attorney like Nicholas Preovolos.
A successful trial strategy for charges involving criminal negligence can involve showing that your actions do not constitute a “wanton or reckless” disregard of others’ safety. Or it may involve demonstrating that the harm that resulted from the activity was not the sort of injury that anyone could have anticipated. But in order to begin formulating your winning trial strategy, you must contact N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation right away. Contact us at (604) 521-5291 for a free consultation.