Criminal negligence is a legal term used to describe actions that are so egregiously negligent as to be considered criminal. Generally, intent is an element of most crimes, which means that a person cannot be found guilty of a criminal act unless he performed an intentional action that violated common law or criminal codes; this is referred to as the actus reus or mens rea. Criminal negligence is an alternative way to satisfy the mens rea requirement and find someone guilty of a crime.
Negligence is a concept found in both criminal and tort, or civil, law. The concept of negligence relates to the common law belief, developed in judicial cases over hundreds of years, that every individual owes a duty to other individuals. Breach of that duty is a legal lapse that is punishable either by a lawsuit, by criminal sanctions or both.
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