Recklessness is a legal term typically associated with personal injury law. Personal injury recklessness describes the defendant’s knowing his conduct was most likely to cause, but committed the tort anyway. Recklessness is also used in criminal law to describe a defendant’s intention.

What Is Criminal Recklessness?

Criminal recklessness refers to mens rea, or the defendant’s state of mind, at the time the crime was committed. The defendant knows and foresees the risks involved in a particular act. They consciously decide to disregard the risks associated with the action and do the action anyway. For example, a driver knows speeding down a residential street may hurt someone. However, they ignore the risks, such as causing a car accident or hitting a pedestrian, and choose to speed down the residential street anyway.

Is Criminal Recklessness the Same as Criminal Negligence?

No. Criminal negligence is defined as conduct that grossly deviates from the reasonable, normal standards of an ordinary individual. Criminal negligence can involve a total disregard for human life.  Criminal recklessness is based on a defendant knowing their actions posed great risk of harm. They show a complete disregard for that risk by continuing to perform the risky action.

Is Reckless Endangerment a Type of Criminal Recklessness?

Yes. Reckless endangerment charge is described as a defendant knowing the risk of harm. This risk of harm includes things such as disobeying driving laws and hospital malpractice. The defendant does not care about the risks involved and continues performing the action anyway.


An example of reckless endangerment involves a child. Child endangerment is a crime when the health and safety of a child is at risk because of an adult’s actions.

Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer?

Yes. If you are accused of or charged with any criminal recklessness charge, contact a criminal lawyer. The lawyer will assess your situation and explain what defenses are available to you.