question.jpgIn Criminal Law

What does it mean to have acted “recklessly”?

A person acts recklessly with respect to a material element of a criminal offense when he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct and the circumstances known to him, its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in the actor’s situation.

So, what does that mean in layman’s terms. Again, by illustration: A homicide offense requires that you act with the intent to kill, right? So, let’s say that you bought a gun, went out on a busy street, and shot your pistol. You may have not necessarily mean for the bullet to hit and kill someone, but you acted recklessly, “consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that your bullet would land in someone’s chest cavity. Therefore, you are guilty of the crime of homicide.