What defines criminal negligence? In Canada, the criminal code states that lack of intent to harm is no defence if the damage results from conscious acts performed in careless disregard for others: “Everyone is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons” (where “duty” means a duty imposed by law). Significantly, Section 222(5)(b) states that “a person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being, by being negligent.”
In the United States, the definition of criminal negligence is even more compelling: “Crimes Committed Negligently (Article 33.1) A crime shall be deemed to be committed with clear intent, if the man or woman was conscious of the social danger of his actions (inaction), foresaw the possibility or the inevitability of the onset of socially dangerous consequences, and willed such consequences to ensue.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed with indirect intent, if the man or woman realized the social danger of his actions (inaction), foresaw the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences, did not wish, but consciously allowed these consequences or treated them with indifference.” “A Crime Committed by Negligence (Article 33.1): A criminal deed committed thoughtlessly or due to negligence shall be recognized as a crime committed by negligence.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed thoughtlessly, if the man or woman has foreseen the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences of his actions (inaction), but expected without valid reasons that these consequences would be prevented.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed due to negligence if the man or woman has not foreseen the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences of his actions (inaction), although he or she could and should have foreseen these consequences with reasonable.”
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Professor Bill Rees explains why Harper and the conservative Government should be charged with criminal negligence for inaction on climate change:
Creative commons photo courtesy of ‘Minhag’ via Flickr.