Negligence in Polish and English Criminal Law
Keywordsnegligence, guilt, culpability, criminal code, common law, mens rea, punishment
The author presents in this article the differences in understanding of negligence in Polish and English criminal law. It analyses and discusses the relation between guilt, culpability and negligence in the two legal systems. Criminal responsibility in Polish and English law is based on mens rea, which is defined as an element of crime related to the defendant’s state of mind at the time of committing the crime. In English criminal law mens rea means intention, recklessness, negligence, intoxication, and culpability. Nowadays in Polish criminal law the relation between mens rea and culpability is determined by the normative theory of guilt.
The first part of this paper contains an outline of the evolution of criminal responsibility for negligent acts in the Polish criminal code and English common law. The second part provides a detailed analysis of the criteria for a negligent act in the two systems. In the last part the author asks an important question: should negligence be punishable? These considerations lead the author to a number of conclusions.
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