If you have been accused of criminal negligence, you likely are experiencing a range of emotions. While you may have anger or regrets about what occurred that may have led to another person’s suffering or death, those feelings are poised right next to feelings of fear and anxiety about how criminal negligence charges could impact your future.
What Constitutes Criminal Negligence?
When charging criminal negligence, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant’s actions were so reckless that they resulted in serious injury or death to someone, that the defendant exhibited a callous disregard for another person’s well-being, and that any reasonable person in the same situation would have known better and behaved differently to avoid harm or death to another person. Criminal charges may be filed to address egregious missteps that result in horrific injuries or death. These charges occur across many areas:
- Charges of criminal negligence might be brought against a medical professional or caregiver who allegedly administers a lethal dose of medication to a patient, who over-prescribes opiates, who neglects to respond appropriately to a patient’s complaints, who makes surgical errors, or who is connected to any number of medical mishaps.
- Parents whose decisions lead to harm or death of someone could lead to these charges. A parent who leaves a child in a hot car could be charged with criminal negligence, for example. Likewise, adults who leave a loaded gun out where children can access it could face charges if the children’s use of the weapon leads to injuries or fatalities.
- A driver who causes a collision due to texting while behind the wheel might be charged with criminal negligence. The same goes for a driver who speeds through a school zone.
- If someone brings an aggressive dog with a history of biting to an off-leash park and that dog attacks someone, they could be criminally charged.
- A company that knowingly ignores safety guidelines issued by OSHA, particularly if a previous warning has been issued, may face criminal negligence charges.
While every case of criminal negligence is different, a guilty verdict can result in an array of penalties, including probation, a prison sentence, significant fines, restitution to the victim, loss of privileges (such as the ability to drive or to own a firearm), community service, and more. The other consequences could include job loss, family alienation, rehousing, depression, anxiety, and significant changes to the future you may have been planning on. Continue reading