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recklessness

A form of *mens rea that amounts to less than *intention but more than *negligence. Many common-law offences can be committed either intentionally or recklessly, and it is now common for statutes to create offences of recklessness. Recklessness has normally been held to have a subjective meaning of being aware of the risk of a particular consequence arising from one’s actions but deciding nonetheless to continue with one’s actions and take the risk. However, the House of Lords has ruled that, in the context of *reckless driving and *criminal damage, recklessness also has an objective meaning of giving no thought or being indifferent to an obvious risk. This definition makes the concept of recklessness far stricter and brings it very close to the traditional definition of negligence. In most cases the subjective definition applies to common-law offences and the objective definition to statutory offences. There are, however, dicta in the Court of Appeal applying the objective definition of recklessness to some common-law offences (e.g. rape).

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