While many people believe that you can be innocent or guilty of a crime simply by committing or not committing it, there is actually a lot more that goes into it. A person’s responsibility for a crime can be directly affected by their mental state.
What Are the Differences?
For starters, some crimes can be categorized as careless, which refers to a person’s negligence in the incident. If the crime is just an act of carelessness, it typically results in only civil liability. But it can quickly become criminal or reckless negligence depending on the circumstances. This also falls in line with intentional or unintentional harmful behaviors. If you intentionally commit a crime there is little defense in the way of liability. If you unintentionally commit harmful behavior it can be broken down into two basic types: mistake in fact or mistake of law.
Mistake in fact means your behavior fit the definition of a crime but you were acting based on mistaken knowledge.
When it comes down to it, the term motive is usually key to proving if something was done intentionally or knowingly. In an assault case, a defendant might claim they accidentally struck the victim, without the necessary intent for an assault. But if the prosecution is able to show that the defendant had motive, it can serve as circumstantial evidence that there was intent to strike the victim.
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The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.