A More Principled Approach to Criminalizing Carelessness: A Prescription for the Legislature

50 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2008 Last revised: 23 Feb 2010

Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer

Pace University - School of Law

Date Written: February 22, 2010


American society increasingly relies on technology and a faster pace to accomplish more tasks more quickly. However, these benefits are realized at some cost. The potential for increased societal harm generated by the combination of technological reliance and an up-tempo lifestyle poses a challenge to the law, particularly given the negligent nature of today's society. The criminal law traditionally has focused its sanctions on harmful activity produced intentionally or recklessly, relieving those who engage in ordinary negligent harm from criminal sanction. The modern technological revolution requires legislators and policymakers to reevaluate the traditional reluctance of criminal law to punish ordinary negligence and to broaden the scope of punishable conduct to include ordinary negligent conduct when such punishment will deter others. This article draws the conclusion that criminal law will not unfairly punish individuals and will provide prosecutors with enhanced tools to respond to dangerously careless conduct that could have been anticipated and averted.

Keywords: Criminal law, criminal negligence, legislative, technology, negligent conduct

JEL Classification: K14, K42, O38,

Suggested Citation

Tenzer, Leslie Y. Garfield, A More Principled Approach to Criminalizing Carelessness: A Prescription for the Legislature (February 22, 2010). Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 875, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1151956

Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer (Contact Author)

Pace University - School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
United States

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