Negligence is a broad concept that spans several areas of law, from personal injury to criminal law. Most people are familiar with civil negligence, where an injured person seeks compensation for damages or harm caused by another person’s failure to exercise reasonable care in their actions. However, negligence commonly occurs in the criminal context, where the penalties differ.
Below, the law firm of De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers explains what criminal negligence is, discusses some common cases involving criminal negligence, lists the penalties, and states how criminal negligence differs from gross negligence.
What Is Criminal Negligence?
Although Nevada doesn’t have a specific criminal negligence crime, the state has several statutes that broadly define or detail conduct that constitutes criminal negligence. Generally, the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) defines criminal negligence as “a want of such attention to the nature or probable consequences of an act or omission as an ordinarily prudent person usually exercises in their own business” (NRS 193.018). Criminal negligence is found under specific circumstances in which:
- A person behaves in a manner that significantly departs or grossly deviates from how a reasonable person would act in a similar situation.
- A person should have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk to human life and demonstrated a blatant disregard for human life or safety.
- Someone’s inappropriate or reckless behavior directly creates the risk of danger.
- A person shows indifference to the potential consequences of their actions.
- Someone engages in gross, aggravated, or culpable behavior.
Criminal negligence necessitates a higher level of responsibility than civil negligence. To be considered criminal negligence, there must be more than just a simple judgment error, lack of focus, or typical carelessness.
What Are Some Common Cases Involving Criminal Negligence?
In Nevada, criminal negligence can be a factor or element in several dangerous situations and criminal offenses. Some of the most common cases that involve criminal negligence include the following:
Under NRS 200.070, involuntary manslaughter is defined as the unintentional killing of another person, either during the commission of an unlawful act or a negligent act. A person mislabeling a poison or controlled substance that a child consumes and dies from, a hunter shooting and killing a person they mistook for an animal, and someone improperly storing or maintaining a firearm that unintentionally discharges and kills their neighbor are all examples of involuntary manslaughter. It carries a Class D felony conviction.
Criminal Negligence of Patients
Professional caretakers in medical facilities, such as licensed medical providers, can be charged with criminal neglect under NRS 200.495 when the caretaker fails to provide care, service, or supervision that’s reasonable and necessary for the patient’s health and safety if:
- The conduct is aggravated, reckless, or grossly negligent.
- The conduct constitutes disregard, danger to human life, or indifference to the resulting consequences.
- The consequences of the behavior are reasonably foreseeable.
- The harm or danger to human life was a natural and probable result of the aggravated, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct.
Reckless endangerment (NRS 202.595), which is regarded as Nevada’s criminal negligence catch-all statute because it covers a variety of criminally negligent behavior, is described as the performance of an act or neglect of legal duty in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property. Speeding in a school zone, shooting a firearm at birds in a public park, and setting fireworks close to a building are all reckless endangerment.
Child endangerment under NRS 200.508 involves criminally negligent conduct that puts a child at risk of suffering unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering as a result of abuse or neglect or being placed in a situation where the child may suffer physical pain or mental suffering as the result of abuse or neglect. Examples of child endangerment include leaving a child in a locked car, exposing a child to a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation, or failing to supervise your young child while at the park.
What Are the Penalties for Committing or Being Charged With Criminal Negligence in Nevada?
The penalties for being found guilty of criminal negligence vary depending on the offense, applicable statute, and the severity of the resulting harm:
- For misdemeanor convictions, you can face imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, pay a fine of not more than $1,000, be required to perform community service, or any combination of the three.
- For gross misdemeanors and negligence that don’t result in substantial bodily harm, penalties include incarceration for less than one year, paying fines of up to $2,000, or both.
- For felony convictions and negligence that result in substantial bodily injury or death, you can be incarcerated for up to 20 years, depending on the felony category, and be required to pay fines of up to $10,000 and restitution to any victims.
What Is the Difference Between Criminal Negligence and Gross Negligence?
According to the Nevada Supreme Court, gross negligence is an individual’s indifference to their legal duty of care to prevent harm to others. It disregards one’s legal obligation to take reasonable precautions to protect others from injury and applies in both civil and criminal proceedings.
However, the term “gross negligence ” is most frequently used in civil law cases to describe a flagrant departure or gross deviation from the accepted standard of care or an intentional extreme breach of a legal duty that rises to recklessness, maliciousness, wanton endangerment of others, intent to harm, or fraud.
How Can De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers Help You With Your Criminal Negligence Case?
The experienced criminal law attorneys at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers can help if you or a loved one is facing a criminal negligence case. For over a decade, our attorneys have worked to preserve residents’ rights both in and out of the courtroom. With several former state and federal prosecutors on our criminal law team, De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers are familiar with how the prosecution and government construct cases and how to provide you with a sound defense strategy.
Contact De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers today. We know how to defend against various criminal charges, including drug-related offenses and DUIs.