Criminal negligence occurs when a person acts in such a way that it can be considered an extreme departure from the manner in which a “reasonable” person would have acted in the same or similar situation.

In general, an act that rises to the level of criminal negligence typically involves one that shows an indifference or disregard for human life, or for the safety of other individuals.

How is Criminal Negligence Different from Civil Negligence?

There are two types of negligence: criminal negligence and civil negligence. The difference between criminal negligence and civil negligence is that criminal negligence involves more extreme behavior or actions.

In addition, criminal negligence requires more than just a mere mistake in judgment, inattention or ordinary carelessness. It generally refers to conduct that is so outrageous and reckless that it is a clear departure from the way an ordinary, careful individual would have acted.

On the other hand, civil negligence is when an individual’s conduct falls short of how a “reasonable” person would have acted in the same or similar situation, but the individual’s conduct would not be considered a drastic departure from the way a reasonable person would have acted.

What is the Level of Proof in a Criminal Negligence Case?

Civil negligence cases also involve a lesser “burden of proof” as compared to criminal negligence cases. The plaintiff in a civil negligence case only has to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant was negligent. In such a case, the phrase “preponderance of evidence” simply means that it was more likely than not that the defendant acted negligently.

In a case for criminal negligence, however, the prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

The phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” refers to the highest standard of proof available in a court of law. In this instance, it means that the evidence is so strong that there is no other logical explanation besides the fact that the defendant acted with criminal negligence.

What Should I Know About Filing the Case?

Criminal and civil negligence cases are also different because of the types of procedures involved.

For instance, criminal cases are tried differently than civil cases. In a criminal case, it is the prosecutor or the state that is responsible for bringing the charges against the defendant. This is because the defendant’s conduct is considered to be sufficiently disruptive or damaging enough that it justifies receiving a punishment from the state.

In a civil negligence action, however, the case may be filed by one private citizen against another private individual. The goal in a civil claim is to reimburse the victim for their losses rather than to punish the defendant. Also, the penalties are different for civil cases and criminal cases.

What are Some Differences Between Criminal Negligence Versus Civil Negligence Punishments?

In general, an act of criminal negligence carries with it harsher penalties and legal consequences than those associated with civil negligence. A person who is liable in a civil case only has to pay money damages, whereas a person convicted in a criminal case can go to jail.

Criminal negligence can also be punished by having to pay fines, receiving mandatory probation supervision, and being required to participate in a large number of hours of community service.

Once the sentence imposed by a court has been served, the individual who was convicted of criminal negligence will most likely have a criminal record, which can make it difficult for them to find a job.

What is an Example of Criminal Negligence?

Criminal negligence typically refers to conduct that leads to the risk of serious bodily injury or death to another individual.

One primary example is a person driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol that results in causing someone else’s death due to their impaired operation of a motor vehicle. Most state laws would define this conduct as criminally negligent homicide.

What is One Example of a State Law for Criminal Negligence?

As an example, in order to convict someone of criminal negligence in the state of California, it is necessary for the prosecutor to prove the following three elements:

  1. That the defendant acted so recklessly that they created a high risk of death or major bodily injury;
  2. That the defendant’s actions showed a disregard for human life or an indifference to the consequences; and
  3. That a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would have known that the actions would have probably resulted in harm to other individuals. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Criminal Negligence Charges?

Criminal negligence laws can be difficult to understand and often vary from state to state. Also, the legal consequences associated with a conviction for criminal negligence will depend on whether the defendant’s conduct was intentional, reckless, or negligent.

Therefore, if you are facing charges for criminal negligence, it may be in your best interest to contact a local criminal defense lawyer who can provide you with proper legal guidance and representation in court.