Criminal Negligence

Criminal Negligence

The offence of criminal negligence is outlined in section 219 of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of criminal negligence when they show a deliberate or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others when doing anything or omitting to do anything they have a legal duty to do.


Person A is speeding and swerving through traffic on a crowded highway for fun and crashes into a tree.

Person B leaves their five-year-old child alone at home all night while they go out drinking with friends.

Person C fires a gun in the air multiple times while at a crowded outdoor music festival.


R. v. L.K., 2020 ONCA 262

In R. v. L.K., the accused was convicted of two counts of criminal negligence for repeatedly leaving her underage daughter alone with two men she knew to be convicted sex offenders and despite obvious signs that these men were having an inappropriate relationship with her daughter.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

No Negligence

Where the person did not demonstrate a deliberate or reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others but behaved as anyone else would, they will not have committed the offence of criminal negligence by doing anything or omitting to carry out their legal duty.

For example, if person A is driving through the city obeying all traffic laws and a deer runs onto the street, causing person A to swerve into an electrical pole, person A may not have completed the offence of criminal negligence.

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