Criminal Responsibility in Utah. Mental State needed to prove Guilt: Intentional, Willfully, Knowingly, Intentionally and Recklessly.

We often refer to certain words and phrases on this blog that the courts use to determine criminal responsibility in Utah. Today we’ll explain what those words mean.


• With intent or willfully with respect to the nature of your conduct or to a result of your conduct, when you have the conscious objective or desire to engage in specific conduct or cause a result.

In other words, if you intentionally fire a gun in another person’s direction and kill them, you may be found guilty of murder if a jury believes that you planned to kill the person.


• When you knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to your conduct or to circumstances surrounding your conduct when you are aware of the nature of your conduct or the existing circumstances.

You act knowingly, or with knowledge, when you are aware that what you’re doing (with respect to a result of your conduct) is reasonably likely to cause the result. If you go up to a person and punch them in the face, you’ll probably be charged with assault because it’s pretty likely you knew that throwing your fist into someone’s face would result in hurting them.


If you are aware that something will most likely happen as a result of your conduct, but you consciously disregard the substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur, you may be guilty of reckless behavior.

Driving under the influence of alcohol could fall under this category. When you get behind the wheel of a car after you’ve partaken of alcohol, making the choice to drive even if you know that you aren’t capable of safe driving, you might be considered reckless.

Criminal Negligence

This part of criminal responsibility can be charged when you do something in spite of the fact that you should be aware of what might occur as a result of your actions. Running a red light and hitting a pedestrian could be criminal negligence because you ought to know the possible consequences of that action, even though you didn’t intend to hit anyone.

Any criminal charge warrants an immediate call to a top Utah criminal defense attorney. The average person isn’t versed in Utah law and won’t know the best way to provide himself with a proper defense. Don’t take chances with your reputation or freedom. Talk to an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney today.

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