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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > The Lack Of Criminal Intent Defense

The Lack Of Criminal Intent Defense


When it is obvious that no one will believe you that you didn’t do it, can you talk your way out of trouble by saying, “I didn’t do it on purpose?”  It depends on the context.  Your grandparents will probably still be mad that you knocked over the ceramic lamp, even though it was an accident.  If you and your classmates forgot to close the hamster’s cage, so that the hamster escaped, the teacher will still be mad even if each student insists that it was another student’s responsibility to close the cage.  As surprising as it might sound, “I didn’t do it on purpose” can be a legally valid defense; in other words, for some crimes, you can get acquitted if you can show that you acted without criminal intent.  The lack of criminal intent defense is applicable to some criminal cases but not to others.  A Tampa criminal defense lawyer can help you successfully apply the lack of criminal intent defense if it is relevant to your case.

Why Does Intent Matter in a Criminal Case?

Intent isn’t what you do; it’s why you do it.  The only difference between murder, manslaughter, and self-defense is intent.  The legal definitions of some crimes include words such as willingly, knowingly, purposefully, voluntarily, and intentionally.  For example, theft is when you knowingly and intentionally remove another person’s property from the legal owner’s possession without the legal owner’s consent.

If your actions fit all the criteria for the crime except the intent, you cannot be convicted of the original criminal charge, but you might still be guilty of a lesser charge.  Someone can be acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter in relation to the same incident.  Likewise, if you are accused of drug possession with intent to deliver, but you show that you did not intend to deliver the drugs, you might still be convicted of drug possession.

Some Actions Are Illegal Even If You Did Not Do Them on Purpose

Meanwhile, some criminal offenses include words like recklessness and negligence in the definition.  For example, you can still be convicted of drunk driving even if you did not know how high your blood alcohol content (BAC) was when you got behind the wheel.  Likewise, if you are being accused of sex crimes related to a drunken incident, you cannot use your own drunkenness as a defense.  In other words, if you say that you were so drunk that you did not realize that your partner was too drunk to consent, this does not cast doubt on your guilt.  The vast majority of car accidents do not involve someone crashing their car on purpose, but despite this, it is possible to get criminal charges if you cause an accident that results in serious injury or death.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you prove lack of criminal intent.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.



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