Last Updated: August 27th, 2021 at 5:17 pm
Read Time: 7 Minutes
What is criminal negligence? You may have heard the term, however, you may not be familiar with the true criminal negligence definition and everything it entails. If you find yourself facing charges, hire a defense attorney for criminal negligence in South Florida right away. As the charge can encompass and apply to a wide variety of crimes, each case is highly nuanced and you must have an experienced legal team on your side fighting on your behalf.
Negligence attorney Fort Lauderdale, Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal is ready to take your case and protect your rights. With years of experience defending clients in court, Mr. Shafran has the knowledge to help you receive the best possible outcome. Contact Weinstein Legal as soon as possible; every day that goes by is a day that the prosecutor's office is building a case against you. You deserve to have an aggressive attorney working to prove your innocence, too. Call 954-845-0505 for a FREE case evaluation today and ask for Mr. Shafran.
Criminal Negligence: Definition
The definition of criminal negligence states that it is "recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences)." You may also hear this referred to as culpable negligence or involuntary manslaughter in some cases.
You may find yourself facing charges of criminal negligence even if an individual sustains an injury as the result of an accident. Intent is not necessary in regard to criminal negligence. Many times people fail to act with caution not because they mean to hurt another person, but rather as an oversight or mistake. Unfortunately, even if this is the case, prosecutors may still charge you.
Do not let a mistake or error in judgment affect you for the rest of your life. As charges of criminal negligence often come with jail time and a permanent record upon conviction, it is essential that you hire a defense lawyer to represent you in a court of law.
Criminal Negligence vs. Civil Negligence
The criminal negligence definition is not the same as that for civil negligence, though they both refer to upholding a reasonable standard of safety and care. When discussing civil negligence, the risk and harm are generally not as significant as when referring to criminal negligence.
Criminal negligence results in a gross deviation from reasonable caution and results in substantial injuries or even death. Meanwhile, civil negligence can be interpreted differently by different parties, as it does not require the person responsible to be aware of the risks associated with an action or behavior. It is much easier to establish a case for civil negligence than criminal negligence.
Examples of Criminal Negligence
If you're asking what is criminal negligence, you are also likely wondering about specific circumstances and examples that may result in the charge. As the definition is broad it can encompass many different acts. However, there are common scenarios in which individuals face charges for criminal negligence as a result of their actions.
You may face charges for criminal negligence if you are arrested for a criminal traffic offense, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or committing bodily harm with a vehicle. If your actions injure or kill another person, law enforcement may charge you. By the definition, driving under the influence meets the criteria for acting recklessly and without reasonable caution.
However, you may also face these charges if you are sober and cause an accident that harms another individual. Excessive speeding, street racing, and driving recklessly may meet the criteria for the criminal charge. In recent years, some prosecutors have pressed charges for criminal negligence against drivers who were texting or talking on the phone while driving and caused a motor vehicle accident.
Mishandling a Firearm
Mishandling a firearm is another common scenario that can result in charges of criminal negligence if a person sustains an injury or dies. This is another broad definition that can encompass many different acts.
Things such as failing to secure a firearm out of a child's reach, firing a gun into the air, brandishing a weapon and having it discharge accidentally, or purposefully interfering with a person who has a weapon in their hand can be criminally negligent.
Endangering a Child
Another example of criminal negligence is endangering the welfare of a child, such as leaving them unsupervised at home for an extended period, bringing them into dangerous situations, or leaving them unsupervised in a vehicle. If you leave drugs within reach of children this may also be considered criminally negligent.
If you are a bartender, server, or restaurant owner you may face charges for criminal negligence if you over-serve a customer alcohol when they are heavily intoxicated. Particularly if you know that individual will be driving. Because it is reasonable to expect a heavily intoxicated person to pose a risk to themself or others, by continuing to serve them you are ignoring this risk and may be held responsible in some circumstances.
Mis-Prescribing or Over-Prescribing Medication
While misconduct by doctors often leads to medical malpractice lawsuits, certain actions can also be criminally negligent. For example, if you are a doctor and knowingly prescribe a patient a dangerous mix of medications that are known to interact with each other. Or, if you over-prescribe a patient medication, such as pain killers, that can reasonably be expected to lead to an overdose or death.
As you can see, when looking at what is criminal negligence, there are many different examples that apply to many different areas of life. This is what makes the charge so obscure. From childcare to medical practice, driving to serving restaurant patrons, there are many possibilities where an accident can lead to criminal charges. The list above is not comprehensive. Since there are so many details and facts, often in cases that are extremely complex, having an experienced attorney on your side is essential.
Legal Defense for Criminal Negligence
If you are facing charges for criminal negligence, do not wait to contact a defense lawyer. There is hope to have your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. An experienced attorney will know how to form the best defense, to protect your rights, and to establish your innocence. There are several common legal defenses for those facing charges.
Establishing Criminal Negligence
Remember, criminal negligence has much steeper requirements to meet than civil negligence. Civil negligence can apply when a person acts carelessly, but not so far off from how another person would act in a similar situation. Criminal negligence states that an individual acted with abandoned recklessness. If an attorney can establish that your actions did not significantly deviate from reasonable expectations, you may be able to beat your case.
When considering the criminal negligence definition, it is important to take into account that an individual must know that their behavior poses a risk to others. For example, everyone knows it is dangerous to leave a firearm within reach of a child. A prosecutor must also establish that any other person in your circumstance would be aware of the risk.
Establishing That the Behavior Was Reckless
Criminal negligence is more than a simple mistake, an error in judgment, a lack of paying attention, or basic carelessness. Criminal negligence refers to behavior that is outrageous and reckless. If you can establish that you made a simple mistake, you may be able to have your charges dropped or reduced. However, it's essential that you hire the best attorney possible to fight your case.
As with any criminal case, having witnesses to testify on your behalf can help greatly. Witnesses may be able to corroborate that you did not know of the significant danger associated with your behavior and may help establish that you did make a simple mistake or oversight. The more substantiating facts you have that point to this, the better your chances are at having a positive outcome in court.
Hiring a Negligence Attorney
If you are facing charges for criminal negligence, involuntary manslaughter, or culpable negligence, contact Weinstein Legal today. We will provide you with a FREE case evaluation to review the facts and give advice on how to proceed.
Do not wait to contact an attorney if you have an upcoming court date. It may be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor's office before that day even arrives to arrange a lesser plea. Contact Weinstein Legal at 954-845-0505 and ask for criminal defense attorney Matt Shafran. Our phones are open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.