Jonathan Morrissey
Consultant Solicitor and Head of Crime, Motoring Matters & Inquests
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Date Published:07 Dec 2016 Last Updated:24 Oct 2021

Accident: Criminal Law


How many of us would expect more sympathy as a result of a Criminal Act than a Motoring one? Criminal Law is usually more serious than Motoring Law, but surprisingly claiming a Criminal offence takes place by Accident carries much more credibility if you are being accused of a “Crime”.

There are three types of Crime:

  • Crimes of Specific Intent: Such as GBH with intent and the vast majority of crimes involving Dishonesty. Here you can only be found guilty if a Court is of the opinion the you actually intended the consequences of your actions. Accident is a defence to these crimes which usually in their phraseology includes words such as “intent” or “wilfully”.
  • Crimes of Basic Intent: Here you can be convicted of an offence that you either commit deliberately or recklessly. Reckless means knowing there is a risk of an offence being committed and simply taking that risk. Again claiming that something happened as a result of an accident is a defence, but this time rather more difficult to establish and the burden may be on you to prove that an accident took place.

Examples of the above crimes are Assaults or Criminal Damage.

  • Crimes of Strict Liability: Crimes where you commit an offence regardless of the circumstances. If you did it, you’re guilty. Theoretically claiming that something happened as a result of an accident will get you nowhere.

However, there are a number of effective ways that even Crimes of Strict Liability can be defended.

If you have committed a crime by accident or need assistance in defending a crime of strict liability, contact our expert criminal lawyer Jonathan Morrissey on 01202 057775 or