What Is Criminal Liability?

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Criminal liability is defined by the National Paralegal College as "an act that may be prosecuted by the state in accordance with the state's criminal code." Someone is criminally liable for actions that break the law if the person broke the law knowingly and willfully and if the person exhibited reckless behavior which resulted in a crime or acted with criminal negligence.

According to the legal code of the city of Everett, Washington, someone acting with intent is criminally liable if that person acted with the objective of breaking the law. The same code notes that to act with knowledge, the person understands that his actions are present in the definition of a criminal offense. A person exhibiting reckless behavior must show a blatant disregard for the consequences of his actions to himself or others. A person who acts with criminal negligence is one who fails to be aware of the substantial risk to himself and others that his actions may cause. Negligence is present when the ignorance of the risk involved results in an outcome that is largely different from what have occurred if the person exercised a reasonable amount of care in his actions. In addition, according to the Wex Legal Dictionary, criminal liability involves both a criminal action and a mental state in which criminal action is intended.