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How Is Criminal Negligence Defined In California?

Posted in Criminal Defense,General FAQ'S on October 29, 2020

Criminal negligence refers to conduct a person engages in that ignores an obvious or known risk or disregards the safety and life of others. Federal and state courts have varying definitions of what criminal negligence means, but they all describe this behavior as a form of recklessness. When a person is criminally negligent, this means they have acted in a way that is significantly different than the way an ordinary person would act under similar circumstances. A person who causes harm to another individual due to their criminal negligence could face significant penalties.

What Do Prosecutors Need to Prove

In California, criminal law recognizes the concept of criminal negligence. In a criminal case, prosecutors will need to prove the following in order to show criminal negligence existed:

  • That the defendant acted so recklessly that they created a risk of injury or death to others.
  • That the act in question demonstrated disregard for or indifference to human life.
  • That any reasonable person in a similar situation would have known that the act would cause harm or death to another.

In California, state law focuses on the actions of the defendant and not on the consequences of the defendant’s actions. What this means is that a person can face charges of criminal negligence even if nobody is hurt, so long as it can be shown that the defendant’s behavior was such that it would likely have caused a person harm or death.

Additionally, even if a person is injured or dies due to the actions of another, criminal negligence will only exist if the act that caused the injury was reckless and involved a high degree of danger.

Examples of criminal negligence

There are various examples of criminal negligence. This can include:

  • A parent that leaves a small child alone in the house so they can go to the bar and have a good time with her friends.
  • A person who drives 40 mph over the speed limit through an area where there is a pedestrian parade going on.
  • A person who violates texting and driving laws who is typing a text message when they get into an accident and cause a fatality.
  • Nursing home facility staff members who forget to feed a patient or give a patient their medications.
  • A nurse or caregiver in the hospital who is not paying attention to medication dosages and administers a lethal dose to a patient.
  • Doctors who prescribe addictive drugs to someone who has a high likelihood of becoming addicted because they get paid more for prescribing certain medications.

Defenses for criminal negligence cases

If you or somebody you care about are facing charges of criminal negligence in California, you need to speak with a skilled Riverside criminal lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to analyze the facts of your case and help formulate the best defense strategy possible. For criminal negligence cases, some possible legal defense strategies include showing that:

  • The defendant committed the act as a result of an accident or a mistake.
  • The defendant did not know, or had no way of knowing, that their actions created a risk of injury or death.
  • That the defendant exercised reasonable care when conducting themselves in the alleged incident.