Problems of Identifying Negligent Fault in Criminal Offences

Jolita Šukytė


Negligence is recognised and consolidated in the majority of national criminal laws as one of the fault forms. Lithuania is not an exception, since Article 16 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as ‘CC’) defines negligent fault through the concepts of recklessness and criminal negligence. It should be noted that so far in the literature on criminal legislation it has been stated unanimously that the liability model for committed negligent criminal acts is based on the fact of originating dangerous consequences stipulated in the Criminal Law. Thus, when supporting a person’s criminal liability for committed negligent criminal acts, the emergence of consequences specified by the Criminal Law plays its central role. However, it is important to note that the analysis of the content of special provisions of the CC, establishing negligent fault, allows seeing that they are constructed by the legislature as a part of formal criminal offences. Thus, one of the main problems currently arising not only at national but also at the European Union level is the interaction between negligent fault and formal offence formations. The origin of this problem stems from legal regulation stipulated in Article 16 of the CC, when negligent fault is revealed through mental relationship with an act, development of causation and originating consequences. The article deals with some key issues, namely the content of negligence to be proved, if the constituent elements are considered to be formal. In addition, given the fact that criminal law is not formal law, the author examines the circumstances that may testify sufficient level of hazard for the emergence of criminal liability.
In response to the concerns raised, the paper concludes that in order to avoid formal application of criminal liability for committing negligent criminal acts described in formal composition, the possibly originating harmful consequences can be considered as one of the possible hazard assessment criteria. Although dangerous consequences are not included in the formal configurations, according to the author, their assessment has an implication on determining the gravity of offences and, therefore, the justification of application of criminal law.


negligent fault; formal composition of criminal offence; recklessness; criminal negligence

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236